Italian painter, stage designer, and illustrator, active mainly in Paris. She was born in Buenos Aires to an Argentinian father and an Italian mother and was brought up in Trieste, her mother's home town. She painted from an early age but had no formal training; her artistic education was instead gained from visiting galleries and from her uncle's extensive library. In 1935 she had her first one-woman exhibition in Paris and at this time she became friendly with some of the leading *Surrealists, including Victor *Brauner and Max *Ernst.
She showed her work in several Surrealist exhibitions but never formally joined the movement, as she disliked its authoritarian attitudes. After the Second World War she had numerous one-woman shows in Europe and the USA, and in 1972 a retrospective exhibition toured Japan. Fini also made a reputation as a stage designer, particularly for the ballet; she created one ballet herself, Le Rêve de Léonor (1949), with choreography by Frederick Ashton and music by Benjamin Britten (his Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge). Her work also included book illustrations. In her obituary in The Times she was described as ‘perhaps the last link with the Surrealist era’ and ‘a woman of such arresting beauty that many beholders found her presence even more disconcerting than the nightmarish visions of her canvases [her paintings are characteristically concerned with themes of morbid eroticism]…her entrance to private views and parties was such that critics were left with their pencils poised inertly over their notebooks’. She never married but ‘her lovers were legion. Their names read like a roll of the literary and artistic talents of that brilliant age’.
Text Source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)