Art Exhibit casts light upon Varian Fry, an American journalist and WWII hero

Villa Air-Bel in the Southeast of France had great tenants: André Breton, Jacqueline Lamba, Max Ernst, Marc Chagall or Marcel Duchamp. Thanks to Varian Fry, who was a recognized a “Juste”, it was above all a haven for many “Surrealists”.

On Oct. 29, the FACC Miami shed lights on this French-American bound by inviting 10 local artists to participate in an unique exhibition during which, a presentation will be also made by Alain Guyot.

JPEGJournalist in Berlin, Varian Fry was concerned by the fate of the German Jews.

After his return to the United States, he started to do everything possible to alert the international community about the menace of Nazism. He began to raise funds to support the anti-Nazi movements.

With the financial support of "The Emergency Rescue Committee", the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Eleanor Roosevelt and the diplomatic support of Hiram Bingham IV, the American Vice-Consul in Marseille, and thanks to his courage and steadfastness, Varian Fry was able to organize the flight of many Surrealists artists to the United States.

In 1995, Varian Fry became the first American to be recognized posthumously as “Juste Among the Nations” at Yad Vashem.
The Surrealism’s movement, whose leader was André Breton, advocated the release of creative forces embedded in the human psyche.

Like many other artists at the time, Surrealists were threatened by the government of Vichy who wanted to ban modern art in favor of an official art.

Most of the refugees at the Villa Air-Bel artists were part of the Surrealism’s movement. André Breton, Jacqueline Lamba, Max Ernst, Marc Chagall, Marcel Duchamp, Arthur Adamov, Tristan Tzara, Françoise Rosay, Charles Wolff, Pierre Dac, Stéphane Hessel have been tenants of Villa Air-Bel.

Waiting for visas for a better life, these intellectuals found themselves welcomed into the Villa Air-Bel which became a haven of relative peace in a free zone daily threatened by a possible German invasion.

To be part of the 7th edition of the ‘French Weeks Miami’, the FACC Miami invited several artists to work around the interweaving of History with a capital "H" and the history of this ordinary man of letters, forgotten hero, who driven by his sense of duty and justice and despite great risk, helped those who needed it most.

The event scheduled on October 29, 2014 in Wynwood consisted of three stages:

  • Alain Guyot-a conference on the work of Varian Fry and the history of Villa Air-Bel.
  • The exhibition The "Villa Air-Bel in 1940"
  • The exhibition of local artists inspired by the surrealist movement and/or the anxiety of the surrealists waiting for their escape.

Selected by the FACC Miami, the artists are: Aduni Abubakar Marongiu. Aida Tejada, Anouck Jourdaa Benedicte Blanc-Fontenille, Capucine Safir, Christian Bernard, Geff Strick, Olivier Dubois, Nadia Desjardins.

These 10 local artists have worked on a common project and achieve intellectual prowess by diving 75 years ago and project themselves into the Villa Air -Bel in 1940.

When? : The exhibition held on October 29, 6p.m
Where? : The Hangar in Wynwood, 2235 NW 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33127

For further information, please visit the websites of :

Varian Fry
French Weeks Miami 2014
FACC Miami

Article co-written by Anne-Julie Lagadic (FACC Miami), published on October 20, 2014, updated on November 13th, 2014.

Last modified on 13/11/2014

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