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César Moro papers, 1854-1997 (bulk 1925-1956)

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Moro (César) Papers

Biographical/Historical Note

César Moro was born Alfredo Quíspez Asín in 1903 in Lima, Peru. He changed his name in 1923 to that of a character in a story by Spanish writer Ramón Gómez de la Serna. Two years later he joined his older brother in Paris, where he intended to become a ballet dancer, but instead began writing poetry in French and painting, both activities influenced by the Surrealist movement. During his time in Paris he participated in exhibitions and published poems in Surrealist publications. He also met and began long friendships with other artists, including Benjamin Péret, Paul Éluard, and André Breton.

Moro returned to Lima in 1933, where he continued to write and paint, and established a museum and taught art classes for patients diagnosed with mental illness at the Hospital Larco Herrera. He also began a long friendship and collaboration with fello Peruvian Emilio Westphalen soon after his return to Peru. In 1935 Moro organized the first Surrealist Exposition in South America but had to leave Peru in 1938 after he and Westphalen published and distributed a clandestine pamphlet in support of the Spanish Republic. He claimed political asylum in Mexico, where he lived for the next ten years.

During his time in Mexico Moro wrote for various publications and co-organized the 1940 Exposición Internacional del Surrealismo along with André Breton and Wolfgang Paalen, which gathered works by Pablo Picasso, Agustín Lazo, and Salvador Dalí, among others. Moro also began new friendships with artists including Xavier Villaurrutia, Remedios Varo, and Leonora Carrington. In 1942 Moro published Lettre d'amour, a long poem in French. In 1943 he published his first book of poems, Le Château de Grisou.

In 1944 Moro broke with the Surrealist movement, and Breton in particular, but he continued to maintain friendships with other Surrealists living in the Americas. He also became close to Mexican artists in the Contemporaneo group, particularly Rufino Tamayo and Xavier Villaurrutia. Moro returned to Lima in 1948, where he dedicated himself to teaching at the Alianza Francesa and the Colegio Militar Leoncio Prado. He died in 1956.

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