Spanish Painter and Writer. 1908 b. Angles, Girona, Spain. Spent her childhood travelling with her father, a hydraulic engineer in Spain and North Africa.
1913 The date figuring as her birth on her gravestone and in her passport but not on her birth certificate. 1924 Studies painting at the Academia de San Fernando in Madrid. This was the year Salvador Dali returned to the academy after his expulsion. 1928 Surrealism was alive in Madrid. 1930 Marries painter Gerardo Lizarraga in San Sebastian. Travels to Paris. 1932 Returns to Spain, living in Barcelona. Meets the avant-garde artist Esteban Frances and though still living with Lizarraga, Starts an affair and shares a studio with him in the Plaza de Lesseps. 1935 Frequents the "Logicophobiste" group. May; Participates in a group exhibition sponsored by ADLAN (Amics de L'Art Nou) Exhibition of drawings (with Jose Luis Florit in Madrid. Separates from Lizarraga. July; in Barcelona with Marcel Jean, Oscar Dominguez and Esteban Frances. Participates in a series of Cadavre Exquis Meets Paul Eluard who came to give a lecture and poetry reading. Anatomy Lesson and other collages. 1936 Death of her younger brother Luis who sided with Franco. Double Agent Oct; meets and starts affair with Benjamin Peret who dedicates his volume of love poetry Je sublime to her. 1937 Spring; Follows Peret to Paris living in a menage a trois with him and Esteban Frances. Lives in poverty occasionally working as a conferance translator Meets Joan Miro, Max Ernst, Wolfgang Paalen, Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte Andre Breton and Leonora Carrington all of whom became friends as well as inspirations. Participates in several Surrealist activities including the International Surrealist Exhibit in Tokyo and Surrealist Objects and Poems exhibition in London (Painted Oberct - now lost). The French Surrealist periodical Minotaur publishes her work "Desire." Suspected of forging works by Giorgio de Chirico in collaboration with Oscar Dominguez. 1938 January; exhibits in Exposition Internationale du Surrealisme at the Galerie Beaux-Arts, Paris; organized by Andre Breton & Marcel Duchamp. The Souls of the Mountain influenced by Wolfgang Paalen's fumage technique. Experimented with dropped wax Vegetal Puppets. Meets and has an affair with Victor Brauner who probably inspires On the Roof of the World. Some of her works published in Trayectoire du rave and Visage du monde. Exhibits (with other Surrealists) in the Gallery Robert Amsterdam of Paris. 1940 Peret imprisoned. Varo goes to the cinema with Chiqui Weisz. The preceding short was one made by Weisz on concentration camps, where Varo saw her ex Gerardo Lizarraga. With the help of Weisz she was able to locate and bribe his freedom. Peret and Varo go to Marseilles where many of the Surrealists, Andre Breton, Max Ernst, Oscar Dominguez, Victor Brauner, among others wait for their exit visas. 1941 Oct; Peret and Varo are invited to stay in Villa Air-Bel by Danny Benedite and Theo Benedite. Nov; with Peret and with assistance of CAS escapes to Mexico via Casablanca by ship, arriving in Mexico City at the end of the year. They meet many friends from Europe, including Gerardo Lizarraga, Esteban Frances, Leonora Carrington, Gunther Gerszo, Kati Horna and Jose Horna, and Chiqui Weisz. They were key figures in the Mexican emigre surrealist community which included Leonora Carrington, Frida Kahlo, Wolfgang Paalen and Diego Rivera. Met Eva Sulzer who would become one of her greatest friends. 1942 Writes "Lady Milagra," a story on the theme of the magical ability of women. Develops an extraordinary friendship with Leonora Carrington. Works for Clardecor, hand painting designs on to furniture and musical instruments. Designs costumes for theatrical productions and illustrates promotional literature for the pharmaceutical firm Casa Bayer. 1946
with Gerardo Lizarraga, Jose Horna, Leonora Carrington, Gunther Gerszo, Benjamin Peret, and Miriam Wolf at the wedding of Carrington and Chiki Weisz? in Mexico City. Meets Sonja Sekula. 1947-1949 Separates from Peret who returns to Paris. Meets the French pilot and adventurer Jean Nicolle who becomes her great love. Participates in the International Surrealist Exhibit in the Gallery Maeght, Paris. Travels to Venezuela with Nicolle. Her brother Rodrigo is the chief of epidemiology for the Ministry of Public Health in Maracay and lives in Venezuela with his family, including Varo's mother, dona Ignacia Uranga y Bergareche. Varo gets a job doing technical drawing for the Venezuelan Ministry of Public Health. Together with Nicolle explores the isolated region of south-central Venezuela. Remains in Venezuela until the beginning of 1949. 1953 Marries Walter Gruen, an Austrian exile and successful businessman in Mexico City who she had met in the early 1940s. Gruen encourages her to resume painting. 1955 Participates with four paintings in her first Mexican exhibition at the Galeria Diana. Invited to have a solo exhibition there. Paints Revelation, or The Clockmaker and The Useless Science, or The Alchemist. 1958? Participates in the First Salon of Women's Art at the Galerias Excelsior of Mexico, together with Leonora Carrington, Alice Rahon, Bridget Tichenor and other women painters. Receives 3,000-peso first prize for her paintings Harmony and Be Brief. Keeps studying mysticism. Reads texts of alchemy, sacred geometry, the I Ching. Explores the ideas of Jung, Gurdjieff, Ouspensky, Blavatsky, Meister Eckhart, the Sufis, and the legends of the Holy Grail. Painted Creation of the Birds. 1959 Period of experimentation. She works in a mural commission for the new Cancer Pavilion of the Medical Center in Mexico City. Begins work on her only surviving sculpture, the Homo Rodans. Under the pseudonym Halicko von Fuhrangschmidt, a German anthropologist, she writes De Homo Rodans published posthumously in '1970. 1960 Biennial Panamericana de Pintura in Mexico City with Raul Anguiano, Gustavo Montoya and Leonora Carrington. 1961 Painted Unsubmissive. 1962? Second solo exhibition at the Galeria Juan Martin, Mexico City. 1963 Paints Phenomenon of Weightlessness and her last picture Still Live Reviving. d. Oct. 8th. in Mexico City, of a heart attack. See Work -> See the blogs here ->, and here ->. Varo was also influenced by styles as diverse as those of Francisco Goya, El Greco, Pablo Picasso, and Georges Braque. While Andre Breton was a formative influence in her understanding of Surrealism, some of her paintings bear an uncanny resemblance to the Surrealist creations of Giorgio de Chirico. In Mexico, she was influenced by pre-Columbian art. Varo's 1963 painting The Lovers -> served as inspiration for some of the images used by Madonna in the music video for her 1995 single "Bedtime Story". Exhibitions: Tokyo (1937), Paris (1938), Amsterdam (1938), Mexico City (1949), New York (1942), Paris (1947) Bibliography Remedios Varo: Unexpected Journeys -> (2000) Janet Kaplan See Timeline