Urgent Museum Notice

La llamada (The Call)

Close up of La llamada (The Call)

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.

Remedios Varo, La llamada (The Call), 1961; Oil on Masonite, 42 x 31 x 1 1/2 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift from Private Collection; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

La llamada (The Call)
Remedios Varo

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 energy from a celestial source.

This work reflects Varo’s characteristic color palette—the central figure, illuminated in fiery orange-gold tones, walks through shadowy, more muted surroundings. Precise lines reveal unexpected details, such as walls that appear to entomb figures in tree bark.

Varo’s own features, particularly her large eyes and long, straight nose, often appear in the faces of her protagonists, emphasizing the importance she placed on her perspective as a woman. However, as in The Call, her works do not feature direct self-portraits. The figures are frequently androgynous or not-quite-human alter-egos, with witty and delicate features of fauna or otherworldly creatures.

Varo created this work near the end of her life, while living in Mexico and growing in artistic reputation. It reflects her Surrealist influences and her interests—she dabbled in alchemical experiments—as well as her talent for evoking ambiguous narratives through art.

Artwork Details

  • Artist

    Remedios Varo
  • Title

    La llamada (The Call)
  • Date

    1961
  • Medium

    Oil on masonite
  • Dimensions

    39 1/2 x 26 3/4 in.
  • Donor Credit

    Gift from Private Collection
  • Photo Credit

    Lee Stalsworth
  • On Display

    Yes