Raised in a strict Spanish family and rigorously trained in academic art, Varo first found escape in Barcelonas bohemian avant-garde. After fleeing the Spanish Civil War with the poet Benjamin Péret, later her husband, she entered the inner circle of the Surrealists in Paris. Forced to flee again by the Nazis, she and Péret faced a year of mounting danger in Marseilles before securing passage to Mexico. Finding welcome refuge in Mexico City, where she remained until her death, Varo produced the extraordinary paintings for which she gained renown.
Janet A. Kaplans vivid chronicle, the first on the subject in English, weaves Varos life with the artists exquisite work. Painted with a jewellike palette and old-master precision, Varos intimate tableaux, rich with details of womens experience, tell fantasy tales of alchemy, science, mysticism, and magic. Fifty color reproductions capture the wit and beauty of her major paintings; numerous black and white illustrations document other works and portray the compelling artist with her circle of lifelong friends and admirers. The book is further enlivened by her own voice, conveyed in hilarious letters and surreal stories, published here for the first time. It concludes with an invaluable chronology as well as a newly updated bibliography and list of exhibitions.
A woman of intense magnetism and powerful imagination, Varo had been little known outside Mexico, but she has recently found enthusiastic audiences in Europe, the Americas, Australia, and Japan. The fascinating story of her life and the dazzling intricacy of her art will prove a revelation.
With the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Rockefeller Foundation, and Moore College of Art, Janet A. Kaplan traveled through Spain, France, Morocco, and Mexico, tracking the life of Varo and interviewing dozens of the artists friends and family. Dr. Kaplan, who received her Ph.D. from Columbia University, lectures and writes on topics related to twentieth-century and contemporary art, with special emphasis on womens issues and art and politics. A resident of Philadelphia, she is professor of art history at Moore College of Art and Design, on the graduate faculty at the MFA in Visual Art program at Vermont College, and executive editor of Art Journal, a publication of the College Art Association.