The Sorceress Left Too Soon

Rodrigo Varo y Zajalvo worked in construction.  He had no background in art, but he placed a high value on drawing skills.

Mr. Varo brought home his blueprints for his little daughter Remedios; she dutifully copied the straight lines and tricky angles.

Encuentro 1959Remedios Varo, Encuentro, 1959The-Creation-of-Birds 1957Remedios Varo, Creacion de las Aves, 1959

Over her lifetime, Remedios Varo fled Nazis, championed anarchy, dated a poet, designed costumes for Marc Chagall’s ballet Aleko, and met artists such as Frida Kahlo, Max Ernst, and Diego Rivera.  Crazy woman.

Somehow, the existence of her work has escaped me until very recently.  And in the past few months, I’ve had to scramble the leaderboards of my favorite Surrealists.  Dali has been dethroned.  Here are the current standings, in case you were wondering:

1. Zdzisław Beksiński

2. Salvador Dali

3. Remedios Varo

4. René Magritte

the-call 1961Remedios Varo, La Llamada, 1961 Simpatia 1955Remedios Varo, Simpatia, 1955 Ruptura 1955Remedios Varo, Simpatia, 1955 Rompiendo el Circulo Vicioso_1962Remedios Varo, Rompiendo el Circulo Vicioso, 1962 personaje 1961Remedios Varo, Personaje, 1961 alchemy-or-the-useless-science-1958Remedios Varo, Ciencia Inútil o el Alquimista, 1962

Varo’s oeuvre has a haunting, harlequin feel that is missing from the bleak mindscapes of other Surrealist work.  And for the sake of storytelling, I’m fonder of Varo’s and Beksinski’s mystical characters than Dali’s naked people (see the Temptation of St. Anthony).

When she died in 1963, fellow Surrealist and close friend André Breton said:

The Sorceress left too soon.

3 thoughts on “The Sorceress Left Too Soon


    Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon every day.
    It’s always useful to read articles from other authors and practice something from their sites.

  2. MRC

    Thank you for this post. I learned about Remedios Varo from the cover of El cuarto de atrás, by Carmen Martín Gaite, which featured “Armonía” (Barcelona: Destino Libro, 1996 edition). Very glad to see all these images together.

    1. illustratornate Post author

      Glad to do it! She was an amazing artist, a vital part of the Surrealist movement, and after learning about her work, I couldn’t believe how under-represented she was in Art History.


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