Smothered City

Stella Snead was a British painter and photographer, and a lifelong friend of Leonora Carrington’s.  The two women met in London in the Fall of 1936 as young students at the Fine Art Academy of Amédée Ozenfant.  In spite of a seven year age difference, the two artists shared similar backgrounds and held common interests.  Carrington introduced Snead to Surrealism, which remained a lifelong influence on her work.

After completing only one year at Ozenfant’s Academy, Carrington left London in the Summer of 1937 to live with Max Ernst in France.  Snead later described the departure as sudden but determined, stating that “Leonora did not even give us a chance!”  Snead continued to study with Ozenfant for another four years, following him to New York in 1939.  It was there that she re-connected with the Surrealists, most of whom were exiled from Europe.  Having just arrived in New York herself after her harrowing experience in a mental hospital in Spain, Carrington ran into Snead on the subway in July 1941.  Though Carrington soon moved to Mexico, the two artists maintained contact and continued their friendship until the end of their lives.

Snead spent the rest of the 1940’s living between California, New Mexico and London, painting and exhibiting often until 1950 when the break-up of a relationship brought on a long period of depression.  In 1952, she traveled to India where she developed an interest in photography.  Her dream-like Surrealist images and collages were used as illustrations for many books, and served as her main creative output until 1987, when she regained her interest in painting.  Having lost track of her older work, Snead decided to recreate some of her earlier paintings by using old black and white photographs.  By then, however, she had been almost forgotten as an artist, and it was not until 1999 that she would exhibit again.  She died in New York in 2006 at the age of 96.