Norah Borges

Buenos Aires 1901-1998

Leonor Fanny Borges, an Argentine painter and wood carver and sister of the writer Jorge Luis Borges, is known in artistic circles as Norah Borges. From a well-off, bourgeois family, their father’s illness forced them to travel to Europe between 1914 and 1921. Having settled initially in Switzerland, she studied in the École des Beaux Arts in Geneva. In addition to this academic training, she had contact with artists seeking refuge from World War I, meaning both Norah and her brother met the avant-garde movements of the time, such as Expressionism, Cubism or Futurism, in person. In Lugano, she learned the wood engraving technique from Arnaldo Bossi. Technically speaking, her early wood carvings with a religious theme included Expressionist traits combined with Primitivist and post-Cezanne elements.

From 1919 to 1921 she stayed on Mallorca several different times; for her, the island represented the discovery of the countryside, emphasising the people more than the landscape, contrary to the customs of her contemporary artists. In Valldemossa, she came into contact with the Sureda family and the intellectual circle around them. In 1920, they alternated stays in Seville and Madrid, where they entered into contact with the Ultraist movement, and they took part in their talks, in which Norah had an active role, even being nicknamed “the Ultraist painter”. She also participated in the illustration of her brother’s works or those of other writers, like Platero y yo (Platero and I) by Juan Ramón Jiménez or Romancero Gitano (Gypsy Ballads) by Federico García Lorca, and collaborated on diverse publications, such as, Baleares and Ultra, among others. In 1920, with Rafael Barradas, she illustrated the Manifiesto Ultraísta Vertical, by Guillermo de Torre. She returned to Buenos Aires in 1921 and, by now married to the literary critic Guillermo de Torre, lived in Madrid from 1932 to 1936, and later stayed definitively in her native city, where she conducted her career as an artist.


Works in the collection