REMEDIOS VARO (1908-1963)
Remedios Varo (1908 – 1963) was born in Girona in the Catalonia region of Spain. From an early age, Varo’s father encouraged independent thought and supplemented her education with novels, poetry, philosophy, and drawing, igniting a curiosity and imagination that would come through in her later artwork. In 1937, after graduating from the Escuela de Bellas Artes, Varo left Spain for Paris, escaping the Spanish Civil War and relocating to the heart of avant-garde art. In Paris, Varo became associated and exhibited with the Surrealists, an artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that eschewed the rationality and order of the modern world. Varo’s work from these early years tended to explore themes like magic, alchemy, and mysticism. However, as World War II began to threaten Paris, Spanish refugees like Varo came under threat. After briefly being put under arrest, she fled Paris in the face of the Nazi invasion, securing passage to Mexico in 1941.
In Mexico, Varo met native artists like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, but had her strongest ties with European expatriates like the English painter Leonora Carrington. While working various jobs to support herself, Varo began to develop a more mature and distinctive style of Surrealism. Later in her life, she devoted increased time and energy into her art, delving further into her vibrant and fantastical imagination.
Today, Varo is considered among the most important and influential Surrealist artists of the 20th century. She received her first solo exhibition in Mexico City in 1956 and continued to exhibit thereafter. Recent retrospectives of her work include Magic of Remedios Varo, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C., 2000; Remedios Varo, Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City, 1994; and Remedios Varo Instituto Nacional de Artes Finos, Mexico City, 1964. Her work is represented in the public collections of the of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. and The Museum of Modern Art in New York among others.