From Scarlett Davis’s interview with Lissa Rivera for Musée Magazine:
Can a woman be an artist and a muse? This was the kind of uphill battle of rhetoric female Surrealists like Leonor Fini encountered in their quest to broaden portrayals of gender, identity, and sexuality in art. Leonor Fini was a pioneer for her efforts to invert the traditional Muse, in which she domesticated her male subjects in more feminine depictions and, in doing so, empowered her female subjects through mythical creatures and folklore, such as her use of the Sphinx. Much of Fini’s art, as with other artistic movements of her era, was a reaction to the horror and inhumanity experienced in the wake of the Second World War. It is possible to posit that this kind of environment offered the perfect conduit for artists to seek a safe space outside of their bodies and to direct their attention instead to their subconscious states, whereby sexuality and identity could be more truthfully realized and honed.
It is of interest, then, that Fini’s art and vast contributions should surface in our current sexuality-fluid Renaissance, generated in part by the wake of the #MeToo movement. It’s a pleasure to have the added layer of meaning to this work from its curation by artist and photographer Lissa Rivera, whose own photography and motifs invite comparisons to Fini’s work—most notably in her collection “Beautiful Boy,” in which Rivera takes on the role of the artist and is careful to render her muse’s vulnerability and femininity, as her subject is both her lover and friend.