Remedios Varo was born to a middle-class freethinking family that supported her artistic interests from an early age. Her father, an engineer, was a strong influence on her early and vibrant interest in the natural sciences.After spending part of her childhood in Tangiers and Algeciras, in 1917 she moved with her family to Madrid.Between 1924 and 1930, she studied in the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts, where she met fellow painter Gerardo Lizárraga. That year, she exhibited her work at the Unión de Dibujantes Españoles (Spanish Draughtsman Union).
In 1930, she married Lizárraga, and they moved to Barcelona.She became friends with members of the artistic avant- garde in the city while taking on commercial work in an advertising agency to survive, which would become a constant theme in Varo’s life. She shared a studio with Esteban Francés. In 1935, the year she met Óscar Domínguez and Marcel Jean, she participated in a joint show with José Luis Florit in a café on the Gran Vía in Madrid, showing works that were already surrealist in nature. Noteworthy in her artistic production during these years are her little known collages.In 1936, she took part in the Exposició Logicofobista in Barcelona and came into contact with Éluard.
At the start of the Spanish Civil War, she met Benjamin Péret, with whom, in 1937, she moved to France. There, she joined the most elite surrealist circle that included Breton, Ernst and Leonora Carrignton, with whom she would become intensely involved and participate as “Remedios” in the group’s activities.
The Nazi invasion forced her to leave Paris, and in 1941, she and Péret arrived in Mexico, where she would remain until her death.The poet returned to France in 1947. Coinciding with this separation, Remedio Varo reunited with her brother Rodrigo, in charge of a clinical undertaking involving the study of malaria, on an expedition down the Orinoco. During this journey through Venezuela, she made scientific drawings.
In 1949, she returned to Mexico, where, in 1952, she joined Walter Gruen, a political refugee.She stopped taking on commercial work for good and devoted herself exclusively to creative endeavors. From then on, she would produce her most significant work, characterized by a powerful dreamlike and literary quality. In this sense, her true career began in the mid fifties, with solo and group exhibitions at the Galería Diana, Galerías Excélsior –where she was awarded first prize in the first Salón de la Plástica Femenina (Hall of Women’s Fine Art) in 1958–, and participated in the Second International Biennial in Mexico.She received numerous commissions and became a success. In 1962, she had her second and last solo exhibition at Galería Juan Martín in Mexico City.