American Surrealist painter and sculptor. Born at Galesburg, Illinois. Worked as a librarian, studied at Knox College and later supported herself in New York as a commercial artist and by odd jobs connected with the arts. Read voraciously, visited museums and began to paint without instruction. Deeply impressed by the exhibition Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1936. Early paintings mainly inspired by childhood fantasies and nightmares. Met Max Ernst in 1942 and was introduced by him to the Surrealists then living in New York. First one-woman exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery, New York, 1944. Married Ernst in 1946 and settled at Sedona, Arizona, later moving with him to France. Designed decor for Balanchine's The Night Shadow 1946 and several other ballets. In the mid 1950s her paintings became semi-abstract, with mysterious erotic or violent imagery as it were enveloped in mist. Since 1965 has also made some sculpture. Lives in Seillans (Var).
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.714