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 U.S.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Varo produced works depicting artists and intellectuals in intricate dream-like settings. Her career took off in those years after relocating to Mexico City as a refugee during World War II. Six decades after her death in 1963, her market is growing, and her status within art history is rising, with her work set to be included in this year’s Venice Biennale.
The MFA Boston’s new acquisition, Tailleur pour dames (1957), depicts a tailor’s showroom, where four women are outfitted in garments that each appear to take on new transformations—a dress converts into a boat, a scarf becomes a seat, and a purple cape floats into the air. It is one of fewer than 200 oil paintings that Varo created during her lifetime and one of only several large-scale works she ever made, most of which remain in private collections. It’s 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 acquired Varo’s 1956 work on paper Cazadora de astros (La luna aprisionada), depicting a female hunter capturing the moon. The museum called the work a “tour-de-force.”
The MFA’s Varo will go on public view on March 17 as part of a rehang of the museum’s 20th-century art holdings, where it will figure in a gallery showcasing works from Latin America. As part of a move to raise funds for the 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 will now begin to be able to tell the story of this international artistic movement through the art of a woman who worked in Latin America.”