Remedios Varo. The Juggler (The Magician). 1956 5

Oil and inlaid mother of pearl on board, 35 13/16 × 48 1/16" (91 × 122 cm). Gift of Joan H. Tisch (by exchange). © 2023 Remedios Varo, Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VEGAP, Madrid

Curator, Anne Umland: There is so much to look at in this picture, and one thing that's fun to do is to try to see how many different animals you can find.

So, I see birds. I see a goat. I see an owl. I see a lion. And then there's something I can't tell what it is: look at that little box right to the left of the Magician, see how it's creeping open, and there are two eyes staring out? I've always been curious what that is in that box.

The artist often includes mysterious wind-propelled vehicles in her pictures, and this one is really fun to study, because if you look at the bottom, you can see it has wheels, but then as your eye travels up past its roof to its very top, you can see that there is a mast, and two sails, and rigging like you would find on a boat. So she's somehow created a cart-boat, filled with all these magical things.

And someone once told me that to make the very fine lines that she painted, she used the thinnest of brushes, and that the bristle on the brush was a cat's whisker [sound of a cat meowing]. So I don't know if that's true or not, but I like thinking about that when I look at how many teeny tiny details there are in this work.