The Museum of Fine Arts Boston and the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio recently acquired works by Remedios Varo, a surrealist artist whose work has begun to see a new level of institutional attention in the United States.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Varo produced works depicting artists and intellectuals in complex dreamlike settings.. Her career took off in those years after moving to Mexico City as a refugee during World War II. Six decades after his death in 1963, his market is growing and his status in art history is rising, with his work set to be included in that year’s Venice Biennale.
The new acquisition of MFA Boston, Tailor for ladies (1957), depicts a tailor’s showroom, where four women are fitted with garments that each seem to undergo further transformations – a dress transforms into a boat, a scarf becomes a seat, and a purple cape floats in the air . It is one of fewer than 200 oil paintings Varo created during her lifetime, and one of the only large-scale works she ever produced, most of which remain in private collections. It is also the first painting by Varo to enter the museum’s collection, and the only one by the artist held by a public collection in New England.
In January, the Toledo Museum of Art announced that it had acquired Varo’s 1956 work on paper Cazadora de astros (La luna aprisionada), depicting a huntress capturing the moon. The museum called the work a “tour de force”.
The MFA’s Varo will go on public display March 17 as part of a revamp of the museum’s 20th-century art collections, where it will feature in a gallery featuring works from Latin America. As part of a fundraising move for new acquisitions of modern works, the museum is selling three paintings from its Americas Collection by Georgia O’Keeffe and Charles Sheeler this year.
Calling Varo “one of the most compelling surrealists of the 20th century,” MFA Director Matthew Teitelbaum said in a statement, “It is exciting that we are now beginning to be able to tell the story of this international art movement to through the art of a woman who worked in Latin America.