Long Overlooked Surrealist Remedios Varo Gets Her First New York Show in Four Decades

Chalk up another landmark in the growing recognition of the great Surrealist artist Remedios Varo. She will soon have her first New York exhibition in decades, at the same moment that her works are entering new museum collections.

“A Visionary Line: Remedios Varo Drawings” will be not only her first New York solo show in nearly 40 years, but also the first exhibition devoted to her work in the medium. The show is part of a series of “offsite” exhibitions that San Francisco dealer Wendi Norris has staged, and will take place at Adler Beatty, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

The show coincides with the acquisition of the artist’s works by two major museums, the National Galleries of Scotland and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; in each case, they are the first examples by Varo to enter their collections. Scotland will add Encounter (1959), which is also the first Varo painting to enter a European museum’s holdings, while the D.C. museum has acquired Banqueros en acción (Bankers in action) (1962), and a preparatory drawing. Varo completed only about 100 paintings in her lifetime, and most of them are off the market, now hanging in the museums of her adopted homeland of Mexico. 

Remedios Varo, study for Armonía (ca. 1956). Courtesy Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco.

“I often use the word ‘indelible’ to describe the work of Remedios Varo—indelible because of her narrative imaginary and indelible because of her mastery,” Norris said. “Varo’s drawings reveal the intimacies behind this imaginary and mastery of hers.

“I can think of no greater testament to Varo’s legacy than to have a masterful oil and its preparatory drawing in the collection of one of the most frequented museums in the world—the National Gallery of Art in D.C.!” she said. “The National Galleries of Scotland has built one of the most important collections and archives of Surrealism, and they are proudly on the forefront of ensuring that female artists are rightfully taking their place alongside their modern male peers.”

Tightly focused, “A Visionary Line” consists of just nine works on paper, all coming from the collection of her doctor. It includes studies for works that now reside in museums around the globe, from El Flautista in the Museo de Arte Moderno in Mexico City to Tailleur pour Dames (1957), from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

Remedios Varo, Encounter (1959). Photo: Nick Mailer. Courtesy National Galleries of Scotland.

The artist has truly come into her own in recent years as historians and museums have plumbed the contributions to the Surrealist movement of women such as Varo and Leonora Carrington. She had a prominent place in the 59th Venice Biennale exhibition, “The Milk of Dreams” in 2022, and she was the subject of the major exhibition, “Remedios Varo: Science Fictions,” at the Art Institute of Chicago last year, when Tribune critic Lori Waxman called her “the most extraordinary Surrealist you’ve never even heard of.”

International audiences are also getting a chance to see Varo’s work, which is featured in the touring exhibition, “IMAGINE! 100 Years of International Surrealism.” That show recently opened at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium and travels to the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Hamburger Kunsthalle, the Fundación MAPFRE in Madrid, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

“A Visionary Line: Remedios Varo Drawings” will be on view at Gallery Wendi Norris in collaboration with Adler Beatty, 34 E 69th St, New York, from May 8 through June 1.

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