Remedios Varo (December 16 1908 - October 8 1963) was a Spanish-Mexican surrealist painter. She was born in Anglés Cataluña, Spain in 1908 and died from a heart-attack in Mexico City in 1963. During the Spanish Civil War she fled to Paris where she was largely influenced by the surrealist movement. She met in Barcelona the French surrealist poet Benjamin Péret and became his wife. She was forced into exile from Paris during the Nazi occupation of France and moved to Mexico City at the end of 1941. She initially considered Mexico a temporary haven, but would remain in Latin America for the rest of her life. She had an early abortion due to her economic realities of her life. Due to the abortion, she could not become pregnant again.
In Mexico she met native artists such as Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. However, her strongest ties would be to other exiles and expatriates, and especially her extraordinary friendship with the English painter Leonora Carrington. Her last major relationship would be with Walter Gruen, an Austrian who had endured concentration camps before escaping Europe. Gruen believed fiercely in Varo, and gave her the support that allowed her to fully concentrate on her painting.
After 1949 Varo developed into her mature and remarkable style, which remains beautifully enigmatic and instantly recognizable. She often worked in oil on masonite panels she prepared herself. Although her colors have the blended resonance of the oil medium, her brushwork often involved many fine strokes of paint laid closely together - a technique more reminiscent of egg tempera. She died at the height of her career.
Her work continues to achieve successful retrospectives at major sites in Mexico and the United States.
The allegorical nature of much of Varo's work especially recalls the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch, and some critics, such as Dean Swinford, have described her art as "postmodern allegory," much in the tradition of Irrealism.
Varo was also influenced by styles as diverse as those of Francisco Goya, El Greco, Picasso, and Braque. While André Breton was a formative influence in her understanding of Surrealism, some of her paintings bear an uncanny resemblance to the Surrealist creations of the modern Greek-born Italian painter Giorgio de Chirico.
In Mexico, she was influenced by the pre-Columbian cultures.
Varo was influenced by a wide range of mystic and hermetic traditions, both Western and non-Western. She turned with equal interest to the ideas of C. G. Jung as to the theories of G. I. Gurdjieff, P. D. Ouspensky, Helena Blavatsky, Meister Eckhart, and the Sufis, and was as fascinated with the legend of the Holy Grail as with sacred geometry, alchemy and the I-Ching. She saw in each of these an avenue to self-knowledge and the transformation of consciousness.
- Reflejo Lunar.jpg
Reflejo Lunar, 1957.
- Still Life Reviving.jpg
Still Life Reviving, 1963.
Selected list of works
- 1935 El Tejido de los Sueños
- 1942 Gruta Magica
- 1947 Paludismo (Libélula)
- 1947 El Hombre de la Guadaña (Muerte en el Mercado)
- 1947 La Batalla
- 1947 Wahgwah
- 1947 Amibiasis o los Vegetales
- 1955 Useless Science or the Alchemist
- 1955 Ermitaño meditando
- 1955 La Revelacion o el Relojero
- 1955 Trasmundo
- 1955 El Flautista
- 1955 El Paraíso de los Gatos
- 1956 To the Happiness of Women
- 1957 Creation of the Birds
- 1957 Women’s Tailor
- 1957 Caminos Tortuosos
- 1957 Reflejo Lunar
- 1957 El Gato Helecho
- 1958 Celestial Pabulum
- 1959 Exploration of the Source of the Orinoco River
- 1959 Catedral Vegetal
- 1959 Encounter
- 1960 Hacia la torre
- 1960 Woman Leaving the Psychoanalyst
- 1960 Visit to the Plastic Surgeon’s
- 1961 Vampiro
- 1961 Embroidering the Earth’s Mantle
- 1962 Vampiros Vegetarianos
- 1962 Fenomeno
- 1962 Spiral Transit
- 1963 Naturaleza Muerta Resucitado
- Dean Swinford, Defining irrealism: scientific development and allegorical possibility.
- Janet A. Kaplan, Unexpected Journeys: The Art and Life of Remedios Varo (New York: Abbeville, 1988), p. 164.
- Polyxeni Potter, Scientific Discovery and Women's Health.
- She had an early abortion due to her economic realities of her life.
- Remedios Varo Bibliography
- Remedios Varo: Major Works
- Remedios Varo—A Compendium of Online Galleries, Biographies, Articles, and Miscellany
- Chronology of Remedios Varo
- Comprehensive Gallery of paintings by Remedios Varo (Language: Spanish)
- Association des amis de Benjamin Péret (Language: French)