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Remedios Varo

A black-and-white photograph of Remedios Varos, seated in front of an easel. She turns from an easel to face the camera, cigarette in her left hand and paintbrush in her right. Her brushed-back dark hair frames her light-skinned face, falling to just below her chin.

Kati Horna, Portrait of Remedios Varo in her studio, 1963 © Norah Horna; Image courtesy of Walter Gruen


During her childhood in Spain, Varo was influenced by her engineer father, who taught her to draw, and her strict Catholic schooling, against which she rebelled. Following her graduation from art school, she pursued Surrealism and political change.

She moved to Paris in 1937, later finding that she could not return to Spain following the Spanish Civil War. Varo associated and exhibited with the Surrealists, exploring magic, alchemy, and analytical psychology. As World War II threatened Paris, Spanish refugees came under threat. Varo was arrested and held in early 1940. After her release, she fled Paris in the face of the Nazi invasion, and by late 1941 had secured passage to Mexico.

In Mexico, Varo remained friends with fellow refugees from her European Surrealist circle, including artist Leonora Carrington, who became her closest friend and collabo­rator. In the late 1940s, as she supported herself through commercial illustration, Varo began to develop her mature personal style. During succeeding decades, she devoted increased time and energy to her art, and she delved further into the fantastical sources that captured her imagination. Her death of a heart attack in 1963 occurred as she was reaching new renown.

Artist Details

  • Name

    Remedios Varo
  • Birth

    Anglès, Spain, 1908
  • Death

    Mexico City, 1963
  • Phonetic Spelling

    ray-MAY-dee-yohs VAH-roh

Works by Remedios Varo

La llamada (The Call)

Like many figures in Remedios Varo’s paintings, the subject of The Call (1961) projects a sense of solemn preoccupation, as though in the midst of a momentous adventure. Wearing flowing robes and carrying alchemical tools, including a mortar and pestle at her collar, she traverses a sort of courtyard. Her hair forms a brilliant swirl of light, which seems to bring her...

Rendered with precise brushwork, a tall, thin figure strides forward wearing flowing, orange garments emanating a misty golden aura. Her fiery red hair stretches heavenward, encircling a celestial orb. Figures appear encased in the walls of the concave structure surrounding her.

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