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Unexpected Journeys: The Art and Life of Remedios Varo

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Las aventuras que llenan las extrañas y maravillosas pinturas de Remedios Varo (1908-1963) reflejan los viajes físicos y psicológicos de su propia vida tumultuosa: la vanguardia bohemia en Barcelona; la Guerra Civil española; el círculo íntimo de los surrealistas parisinos; la huida del acoso nazi, y una nueva residencia en la tierra, México. La vívida y espléndida biograf Las aventuras que llenan las extrañas y maravillosas pinturas de Remedios Varo (1908-1963) reflejan los viajes físicos y psicológicos de su propia vida tumultuosa: la vanguardia bohemia en Barcelona; la Guerra Civil española; el círculo íntimo de los surrealistas parisinos; la huida del acoso nazi, y una nueva residencia en la tierra, México. La vívida y espléndida biografía de Janet A. Kaplan entreteje la azarosa vida de Varo, el hermetismo de su alma y la exquisita obra de la artista. Además, cincuenta reproducciones a color muestran el humor y la belleza de sus obras mayores, y las numerosas ilustraciones en blanco y negro captan a la pintora y a sus amigos, que también dejaron huellas fuertes.


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Las aventuras que llenan las extrañas y maravillosas pinturas de Remedios Varo (1908-1963) reflejan los viajes físicos y psicológicos de su propia vida tumultuosa: la vanguardia bohemia en Barcelona; la Guerra Civil española; el círculo íntimo de los surrealistas parisinos; la huida del acoso nazi, y una nueva residencia en la tierra, México. La vívida y espléndida biograf Las aventuras que llenan las extrañas y maravillosas pinturas de Remedios Varo (1908-1963) reflejan los viajes físicos y psicológicos de su propia vida tumultuosa: la vanguardia bohemia en Barcelona; la Guerra Civil española; el círculo íntimo de los surrealistas parisinos; la huida del acoso nazi, y una nueva residencia en la tierra, México. La vívida y espléndida biografía de Janet A. Kaplan entreteje la azarosa vida de Varo, el hermetismo de su alma y la exquisita obra de la artista. Además, cincuenta reproducciones a color muestran el humor y la belleza de sus obras mayores, y las numerosas ilustraciones en blanco y negro captan a la pintora y a sus amigos, que también dejaron huellas fuertes.

30 review for Unexpected Journeys: The Art and Life of Remedios Varo

  1. 4 out of 5

    HeavyReader

    This book is incredible, awesome, amazing, fantastic, and wonderful. I do not have the words to say how good this book is. It's the biography of Remedios Varo, a female surrealist painter of whom most people have never heard. I found out about her when I read an article in the now defunt Sojourner newspaper about a very rare exhibit of her work in Chicago. From that moment, I was fascinated. I don't understand why I have heard of Magritte and Dali and Duchamp, but never Varos. Her work is just as This book is incredible, awesome, amazing, fantastic, and wonderful. I do not have the words to say how good this book is. It's the biography of Remedios Varo, a female surrealist painter of whom most people have never heard. I found out about her when I read an article in the now defunt Sojourner newspaper about a very rare exhibit of her work in Chicago. From that moment, I was fascinated. I don't understand why I have heard of Magritte and Dali and Duchamp, but never Varos. Her work is just as good (better) than theirs. Hmmm, I wonder if it's because she is a woman and hasn't been taken seriously. In any case, this book is a biography, and also includes many full color reproductions of her work. I go back to it again and again and just look at the pictures, which are mesmerizing and beautiful. This is one of those books that I want to hang on to forever. Highly recommended.

  2. 4 out of 5

    lisa_emily

    When I was studying art history, I came across the women surrealists, my teacher was a expert in the field (Whitney Chadwick). What an amazing world, and Remedios Varo is one of my favourites. She, along with Leonora Carrington, emigrated to Mexico during WWII, and created a visionary, mystical art world around themselves. I loved Varo's work in particular, because of its highly detailed, illustrative quality. When I saw her paintings in person, I was even more blownaway by its beauty and power, When I was studying art history, I came across the women surrealists, my teacher was a expert in the field (Whitney Chadwick). What an amazing world, and Remedios Varo is one of my favourites. She, along with Leonora Carrington, emigrated to Mexico during WWII, and created a visionary, mystical art world around themselves. I loved Varo's work in particular, because of its highly detailed, illustrative quality. When I saw her paintings in person, I was even more blownaway by its beauty and power, things which were not conveyed in reproduction. This book is the only English biography on Varo and is well worth reading.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Telyn

    An excellent introduction to the luminous, eerie, unearthly paintings of Mexican surrealist Remedios Varo. There aren't quite enough color plates, but the ones included are beautifully reproduced, and augmented by numerous photographs of the artist and her contemporaries as well as black and white images of Varo's paintings and drawings and even some of her early and extremely weird commercial artwork. Author Janet Kaplan has written an intelligent and interesting biography of Varo and provides An excellent introduction to the luminous, eerie, unearthly paintings of Mexican surrealist Remedios Varo. There aren't quite enough color plates, but the ones included are beautifully reproduced, and augmented by numerous photographs of the artist and her contemporaries as well as black and white images of Varo's paintings and drawings and even some of her early and extremely weird commercial artwork. Author Janet Kaplan has written an intelligent and interesting biography of Varo and provides insight into the artist's complex and deeply symbolic work. Highly recommended.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cristina

    This book... is beautiful! Aside from using it as a cornerstone for my Art History BA thesis, it is now one of my favorite things that I have ever read. Remedios Varo's life, art, voice, etc. are gorgeous, layered, complex, and Kaplan manages to communicate so much about someone who lived such a HUGE life in a stunning way. The book is perfectly organized and filled with quotes from Varo and various people who played roles in her magical life, including Leonora Carrington, another character that This book... is beautiful! Aside from using it as a cornerstone for my Art History BA thesis, it is now one of my favorite things that I have ever read. Remedios Varo's life, art, voice, etc. are gorgeous, layered, complex, and Kaplan manages to communicate so much about someone who lived such a HUGE life in a stunning way. The book is perfectly organized and filled with quotes from Varo and various people who played roles in her magical life, including Leonora Carrington, another character that I absolutely idolize. I recommend this book for anyone interested in Varo-- but also anyone interested in art history as a whole, particularly surrealism and the role within it that was played by women. This book is whimsical, poetic, beautiful. Perfect.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Don't let the fact that it took me approximately a year and a half to read this book fool you into thinking I didn't like it. Mostly, I was savoring it. The best thing about it is the opportunity to see lots of images of Remedios Varos' work. That's all this book really needed to be for me. And that's all it was for awhile. But the biographical details are really interesting as well. I'm not sure it's the best biography ever written - but it's very likely the ONLY one written of this amazing art Don't let the fact that it took me approximately a year and a half to read this book fool you into thinking I didn't like it. Mostly, I was savoring it. The best thing about it is the opportunity to see lots of images of Remedios Varos' work. That's all this book really needed to be for me. And that's all it was for awhile. But the biographical details are really interesting as well. I'm not sure it's the best biography ever written - but it's very likely the ONLY one written of this amazing artist, so it's probably the best bio of her!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Taylor Zartman

    Yes, I am biased in my love for Varo, but what a thorough and tender biography. A delight to read. And as a historian interested in biographical work myself, it is inspiring and motivating to read something as beautifully crafted as this.

  7. 4 out of 5

    A

    A wonderful biography (the only one, I think) about an undervalued painter that does what a good biography should do, which is to present the narrative of a person's life in a clear and interesting fashion, without too much pointless minutia. I especially enjoyed learning about her influences (Renaissance art, alchemy, Jungian psychology) and connections to the Parisian Surrealist scene, as well as Kaplan's studies and interpretations of Varo's highly detailed paintings. The reproductions includ A wonderful biography (the only one, I think) about an undervalued painter that does what a good biography should do, which is to present the narrative of a person's life in a clear and interesting fashion, without too much pointless minutia. I especially enjoyed learning about her influences (Renaissance art, alchemy, Jungian psychology) and connections to the Parisian Surrealist scene, as well as Kaplan's studies and interpretations of Varo's highly detailed paintings. The reproductions included are quite good, too.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Birdief

    One of my favourite books about one of my favourite artists. Varo's work is amazing, and her life, though sadly short, was rich and productive. Kaplan gives a good account of both, and my only complaint is that though numerous, the small format of the book ( for an art book) means that the illustrations are not nearly big enough. Nevertheless I pore over them fairly often. A book to read and reread and if you have any interest in the women surrealists a must read. One of my favourite books about one of my favourite artists. Varo's work is amazing, and her life, though sadly short, was rich and productive. Kaplan gives a good account of both, and my only complaint is that though numerous, the small format of the book ( for an art book) means that the illustrations are not nearly big enough. Nevertheless I pore over them fairly often. A book to read and reread and if you have any interest in the women surrealists a must read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Katsumi

    This wonderful book let the reader know Remedios Varo as a painter and as a woman. It gives a perspective of the world in those years and helps understand the surrealism as a unique movement in the arts. It has plates in color of the most famous paintings of Varo and a complete explanation of them with a very complete bibliography.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lucio

    I discovered this Spanish artist while looking through books on mathematics. Her painting "Harmony" was on the cover of a book on the square root of negative one. Riveting, psychologically stirring, and mystical. I discovered this Spanish artist while looking through books on mathematics. Her painting "Harmony" was on the cover of a book on the square root of negative one. Riveting, psychologically stirring, and mystical.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    fascinating art and artist. biography about Remedios Varo, her struggle as a woman in the sexist world of art in the early to mid 1900s in Mexico City. Originally born in Spain, but fled Europe during Fascist takeover.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tristy

    This is one of most favorite books in the world. Diving so deeply into the life and work of this incredible woman and artist is a treat I want to give myself many times over. Every time I look at her paintings, I am inspired and amazed.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    This is a very readable biography, amply salted with photos and artwork. I found the discussion of Varo's work a little flat, but the narrative of her life reflected Varo's vitality and did great work in depicting her changing environments, cohorts, and aesthetic concerns. This is a very readable biography, amply salted with photos and artwork. I found the discussion of Varo's work a little flat, but the narrative of her life reflected Varo's vitality and did great work in depicting her changing environments, cohorts, and aesthetic concerns.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    A fascinating artist arises as WWII rips Spain apart and forces many citizens to flee to South America. This book showcases artwork she generated in Mexico from the middle of her life on. Magical stuff.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Derek Fenner

    Whoah! "What you grow up with you are given dogmatically, what you find you conquer yourself." Now only if there was a collection of her writings in an English translation. Whoah! "What you grow up with you are given dogmatically, what you find you conquer yourself." Now only if there was a collection of her writings in an English translation.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    Illustrations were gorgeous but text was dry. She is one of my favorite painters; I love surrealist art. The cover painting is entitled "Exploration of the source of the Orinoco." Illustrations were gorgeous but text was dry. She is one of my favorite painters; I love surrealist art. The cover painting is entitled "Exploration of the source of the Orinoco."

  17. 5 out of 5

    Story

    Beautiful and inspiring.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Correen

    Varo has been my favorite artist for many years. I have several of her prints but have not read her biography until know. She is even more interesting than I thought before. Her life as twice an exile living hand-to-mouth with a group of surrealist artists, supporting herself with commercial art jobs, and incorporating her many interests and sources of knowledge into her work gave her the experience to create astounding art. As with other responders, I have also wondered why she has not been as w Varo has been my favorite artist for many years. I have several of her prints but have not read her biography until know. She is even more interesting than I thought before. Her life as twice an exile living hand-to-mouth with a group of surrealist artists, supporting herself with commercial art jobs, and incorporating her many interests and sources of knowledge into her work gave her the experience to create astounding art. As with other responders, I have also wondered why she has not been as well known as other artists. Varo creates well researched, highly detailed, classically rendered paintings that are also fanciful, ironic, and filled with storied imagery. The people who influenced outside the world of surrealists include Bosch, El Greco, Goya, Einstein, and the scientific thinkers of that time. I was drawn to the painting, "Harmony," because of the scientific images but the amount of scientific information and commentary in her work far exceeded what I saw when I first saw it. Two other paintings that address the scientific theories of Einstein present her thinking about time and gravity -- "Revelation" and "Phenomenon of Weightlessness." I loved the biography -- thought it presented a reasonably thorough and interesting picture of Remedios Varo.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Linda Brunner

    Wow and double wow. I have admired her and Leonora Carrington's work, now find out that they were holed up in Mexico together while the rest of the world went insane during WWII. Same time that Rivera and Kahlo were holding court down there. Her focus on the mystical and magical rang a bell for me. And her art! Oh my Goddess, her art. Straight out of that magical place where creation dwells. She is an inspiration for me and my artistic efforts. Wow and double wow. I have admired her and Leonora Carrington's work, now find out that they were holed up in Mexico together while the rest of the world went insane during WWII. Same time that Rivera and Kahlo were holding court down there. Her focus on the mystical and magical rang a bell for me. And her art! Oh my Goddess, her art. Straight out of that magical place where creation dwells. She is an inspiration for me and my artistic efforts.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Incredible book narrating the life and trials of Remedios Varo, one of the many feminine painters left behind under a coat of misogyny. unexpectedly adds humane detail to WWII and illuminates the humanness of people struggling to get by in the genocide and Spanish civil war. 4 stars, I picked this book up only for the images of her paintings, and ended up loving the text as well.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    I was just about to recommend this book elsewhere, then realized that I had never plugged it out here. Gorgeous reproductions of Varo's work as well as a fascinating biography. If you're interested in women artists, surrealism, science and mathematics in art or just plain gorgeous paintings, you're in for a treat. I was just about to recommend this book elsewhere, then realized that I had never plugged it out here. Gorgeous reproductions of Varo's work as well as a fascinating biography. If you're interested in women artists, surrealism, science and mathematics in art or just plain gorgeous paintings, you're in for a treat.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Margaux Tatin Blanc

    FANTASTIC BOOK... I LOVE REMEDIO VAROS SO MUCH... JANET KAPLAN REALLY TRIES TO GO OVER THE DETAILS OF HER LIFE, AND UNDERSTAND THE LIFE OF SOMEONE WHO WAS AN OUTSIDER ALL HER LIFE... AND WHO FOUND HER MAGICAL SELF IN PART BECAUSE OF A DEEP FRIENDSHIP WITH ANOTHER WOMAN ARTIST...

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ianju Gytnnrq30 4y3

    a book realistic

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ernest Hogan

    The story of her life, and a lot of reproductions of her art. This is a book I will cherish.

  25. 4 out of 5

    D.S. Martin

    I love how he painted his way of expressing his art simply his art is magnificent

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kjerstif

    Love this book. A great account of her life and artworks

  27. 5 out of 5

    TheHangryBookDragon

    4.8 stars

  28. 5 out of 5

    Casey

    One of the few books in English on the wonderful surrealist painter Remedios Varo.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Somebody borrowed and never returned this book and I am so sad. But I guess it is my fault for not remembering who I lent it to. Duh!

  30. 5 out of 5

    zaba

    One of my favorite artists!!

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