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An ode to strong and influential female artists of the beginning of the century.

Posted on March - 8 - 2017

Remedios Varo

In the sense of solidarity, Scoop Art welcomes another International Woman’s Day, a day to commemorate the struggles and accomplishments of the many remarkable women around the world. In last year’s list, we included Brazilian Lygia Clark, Cuban-born Carmen Herrera (who is turning 102 this year!), German-born GEGO, Colombian Doris Salcedo and Guatemalan Margarita Azurdia. This list could go on, but on this occasion, we remember the female artists of the beginning of the century, who although were not born originally in Latin America, they were forced by the hardships of last century to migrate there, and their presence proved influential to the local scene.

 

Remedios Varo

Spain 1908, Mexico 1963

Remedios concluded her studies in Madrid and after embarked in many different cities in Spain until ending up in Mexico, fleeing the Spanish Civil War. What seemed to be a temporary situation turned into a permanent one, as Remedios would spend the rest of her life in Mexico, as part of the intellectual expat community, where she would especially form a strong bond with the English-born Leonora Carrington. Her work as a Surreal painter took off in her later years when her androgynous character and elongated settings conveyed a sense of eerie and alienation, but still in the warmth of candle light.

 

Leonora Carrington

English 1917, Mexico 2011

Another of the expats who found her way to Mexico was English born Leonora Carrington. Carrington’s life is admirable and fascinating, being the daughter of a wealthy English man, she was expelled from various prep schools and constantly rebelled against her family and social convention. Determined to become an artists she took up a particular interest in the Surreal movement, even maintaining a relationship with Max Ernst for some years before her exile to Mexico. She lived in Mexico City on and off, creating murals and paintings in a surreal style, with deeply personal and feminine themes, charged with sensual and erotic forms. She also was an active advocate for the female cause and did much work for the Women’s Liberation Movement.

 

Grete Sterne

Germany 1904, Argentina 1999

Buenos Aires saw in 1935 the arrival of Grete Sterne, a photographer who was escaping her home country take over by Nazi powers, at the side of her Argentinan husband, Horacio Coppola. She had previously run a photographic studio, specializing in avant-garde techniques and portraits. She captured many of the intellectuals of the time in Buenos Aires, including Jorge Luis Borges and Amparo Alvajar. During this period she began creating her photomontages, where dreams of women were represented in surreal compositions, mixing various opposing images to create uncanny scenes.

 

Tina Modotti

Italy 1896, Mexico 1942

Born in Italy, Modotti moved to San Francisco at an early age, where she became an actress and thanks to her affair with a famed conceptual photographer, Edward Weston, she took photography. Following Weston to Mexico, she took up the revolutionary vibe that was going around the bohemian circles. She traveled through Mexico, taking pictures of the daily lives in a recompilation called Idols Behind Altars. Her art soon after became more political as a result of her strong ties with the communist party in Mexico. She later became active with international organizations, which took her to Spain as an undercover spy, Moscow until managing to come back to Mexico. Her art as a photographer and her political compromise makes her in a remarkable character in Art History.

Many amazing women have led outstanding lives, colored by passion and determination, and their many achievements translate into powerful and enduring works of art that are admired to this day as a hallmark of their creative genius.

By: Gabriela Martínez de la Hoz