Why the Spanish artist was called the "Pope of Surrealism" and almost forgotten at home: Maruj Maglio
Why the Spanish artist was called the "Pope of Surrealism" and almost forgotten at home: Maruj Maglio

"Surrealism is me!" - said Salvador Dali. And, in general, he strongly (and deliberately) exaggerated. The history of Spanish surrealist painting has retained another name, not so loud - Maruja Maglio. “Half angel, half seafood”, “artist of fourteen souls”, revolutionary sorceress in algae mantle, she paved the way into the world of professional painting for many ambitious Spanish women …

Early painting by Maruhi Mallo

Maruja Maglio was born in 1902 in Galicia. The fourth of fourteen children, she loved to paint - and her parents kept her interested in art. The family often moved from place to place until they settled in Madrid, a city destined to play a decisive role in the fate of Maruja. At the age of twenty, she entered the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid and found herself in the midst of the bohemian life of Spain in those years.

SECC. The work of Maruhi Mallo

Maruhi's classmate was Salvador Dali - they were long and warm friends, despite the fact that this eccentric genius had little faith in her talent. She was on friendly terms with both Lorca and Buñuel … She illustrated poetry collections of her associates, painted book covers, was engaged in scenography and creation of costumes for avant-garde theatrical performances. Ortega y Gasset in 1928 contributed to the organization of her first solo exhibition. Maruja then painted many portraits with some notes of Art Deco, but soon moved on to complex compositions in the spirit of magical realism. In her paintings, villagers appeared, scorched by the hot sun, bullfighters and dancers.


In 1932, having received a scholarship from the state, Maglio went to Paris, where she actively worked, participated in exhibitions and became close to the French surrealists. Needless to say, Surrealist and Dadaist associations were openly misogynistic - but even André Breton, known for his chauvinistic views on the role of women in art, could not resist and acquired several works by Maglio. One could endlessly argue that the place of a woman is not behind the easel, but on the canvas, but any person with at least some kind of creative flair understood: Maliot is a genius. Gloomy images, skeletons, monsters, scarecrows looked at the viewer from her paintings, as if begging to unravel their secrets; one-eyed giants, giants and ghosts attended traditional Spanish festivals and fairs, merging with the carnival procession. Breton, stepping over all his prejudices, tried to make friends with Marucha and introduced her to all his Parisian friends.

Maruja Maglio (left) with her work

The trip to Paris greatly influenced the painting style of Maglio, and her fame increased significantly. She was called "the artist of fourteen souls" and "the dad of the surrealists" (not a mother - it is obvious that there was still no place for all "feminine" in the masculine world of surrealism). Returning to Madrid, Maglio began teaching, taught at the Department of Drawing at the Arevalo Institute and at educational institutions in Madrid, and traveled to her native Galicia on charitable pedagogical missions.


The French government acquired one of her works for the collection of the State Museum of Modern Art. When the Spanish Civil War broke out, Maruja managed to escape to Portugal, and from there move to Argentina - her friend Gabriela Mistral at that time served as Chile's ambassador to Portugal and was able to do what she could. help. The artist's works that remained in her homeland were significantly damaged, and the ceramic sculptures were destroyed.

Bunch of grapes. Live nature Live nature. Works from the series

During this period, Maglio lectured on Spanish art throughout the country, met and instantly became friends (who would doubt it) with the cult postmodernist writer Jorge Luis Borges. In addition, she researched the arts and crafts and mythology of the indigenous people of Latin America, painted sketches of beaches and sea views, and created monumental frescoes (for example, in the cinema in Buenos Aires). However, her journey has just begun - the artist lived for several years on Easter Island in New York. She returned to portrait painting - these works are considered the forerunners of American pop art (and with Warhol, meanwhile, she was familiar).

Women's portraits

The artist returned to her homeland in 1965, after twenty-five years of exile. There they no longer remembered her. Many with whom she was close in her youth have left. Many were already dead. In addition, the departure of Mallo to Argentina was perceived by her former colleagues as a betrayal. The artist must fight for his homeland with arms in hand, and not flee! Not all critics of Maglio followed this call themselves (that's why they still had the opportunity to criticize her - they were alive), but her name was consistently and persistently "erased" from the history of Spanish art. She was mentioned only as someone's longtime mistress, "muse of the 27th generation" or that strange lady who once posed in a mantle of seaweed (for which Dali called her "half angel, half seafood"). Into the life of the new, post-war Spain of Mallo, with her eccentric demeanor and strange outfits - what was her signature colored fur coat worth? - fit a little.

Live nature. Pantheon

But all this did not matter: she was at home, she was still full of strength and ideas, she continued to work … Then the last and most dramatic period began in her work, called - "Los moradores del vacío", or "Inhabitants of the void". And gradually fame returned to her, recognition came. In the funny old woman, they suddenly saw the classics of Spanish painting. Prizes fell, as if from a cornucopia, exhibitions replaced one another …


Maruja Maglio died at the age of ninety-two - in her beloved city, Madrid … She returned there from each of her travels, there she strove during the years of exile in order to stay forever. Several streets in different cities of Spain were named in her honor. In 2009, the construction of a museum dedicated to the work of Maruja Maglio and her brother, the sculptor Cristino Maglio, was initiated in the Spanish city of Vivero.

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