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Finding aid for the César Moro papers, ca. 1925-1987, (bulk ca. 1925-1956)
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical/Historical Note
  • Administrative Information
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: César Moro papers
    Date (inclusive): 1854-1997 (bulk 1925-1956)
    Number: 980029
    Creator/Collector: Moro, César, d. 1956
    Physical Description: 8.0 linear feet (12 boxes, 1 flat file folder)
    The Getty Research Institute
    Special Collections
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles, California, 90049-1688
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: The papers of Peruvian Surrealist poet and artist César Moro include notebooks, drafts of poems, manuscripts of articles, personal diaries, exhibition catalogs, photographs, and correspondence with a number of other artists of the era, including André Coyné, Benjamin Péret, Paul Eluard, Leonora Carrington, Wolfgang Paalen, and Rufino Tamayo. Also included are two collages by Moro, a watercolor by Alice Rahon [Paalen], an etching by Wolfgang Paalen, and several works by mentally ill patients at the Hospital Larco Herrera, where Moro taught. The collection also includes books and journals from Moro's personal library.
    Request Materials: Request access to the physical materials described in this inventory through the catalog record  for this collection. Click here for the access policy .
    Language: Collection material is in Spanish and French.

    Biographical/Historical Note

    César Moro was born Alfredo Quíspez Asín on August 19, 1903 in Lima, Peru. He changed his name in 1923 to that of a character in a story by Gomez 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 Benjamín 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 the mentally ill at the Hospital Larco Herrera. He also began a long friendship and collaboration with 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.

    Administrative Information


    Open for use by qualified researchers.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    César Moro papers, ca. 1925-1987 (bulk 1925-1956), The Getty Research Insititute, Los Angeles, Accession no. 980029.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired 1998.

    Processing History

    The archive was first processed and described in 1998. Jennifer Osorio reprocessed it and wrote a new finding aid in 2006 under the supervision of Jocelyn Gibbs. Andra Darlington revised the finding aid in 2009.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The César Moro papers consist primarily of personal documents, manuscripts, and correspondence from 1925 to Moro's death in 1956. The dates of the collection encompass Moro's years in Paris from 1925 to 1933, his work in Lima in the 1930s, his ten years of political asylum in Mexico from 1938 to 1948, and his final eight years back in Lima.
    Moro's papers provide insight into the Surrealist and avant-garde movements in Europe and Latin America over three decades. His correspondence with other Surrealist artists offers a glimpse into Moro's interpersonal relationships before, during and after World War II; of particular interest is his rocky relationship and eventual break with André Breton and Surrealism. Moro's published and unpublished manuscripts, personal library, and collected manuscripts and artwork by mentally ill patients at the Hospital Larco Herrera illustrate his artistic and literary interests.
    The correspondence, manuscripts, and printed matter are supplemented by several pieces of artwork, including two collages by Moro that were exhibited in Europe, and by personal photographs of Moro, his friends and family.

    Arrangement note

    Papers are organized in six series: Series I. Official papers, 1943-1948; Series II. Manuscripts and diaries, 1925-1959; Series III. Artwork, undated; Series IV. Correspondence, 1930-1955; Series V. Photographs, 1925-1960; Series VI. Printed matter, 1926-1987

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Names

    Moro, César, d. 1956
    Villaurrutia, Xavier, 1903-1950
    Westphalen, Emilio Adolfo, 1911-

    Subjects - Topics

    Art and mental illness
    Art, Latin America--20th century
    Art, Modern--20th century
    Artists--Latin American
    Art-Latin America-20th Century
    Poets--Political and social views
    Surrealism (Literature)
    Surrealism--Latin America.

    Subjects - Titles

    Lettres D'Amour Los anteojos de azufre Trafalgar Square

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Artists' books
    Correspondence, personal
    Drawings (visual works)
    Exhibition catalogs
    Manuscripts for publication
    Official documents
    Photographic prints
    Photographs, Original
    Printed ephemera


    Breton, André, 1896-1966
    Carrington, Leonora, 1917-
    Coyné, André, 1927-
    Eluard, Paul, 1895-1952
    Paalen, Wolfgang, 1907-
    Péret, Benjamin, 1899-1959
    Rahon, Alice, 1916-
    Tamayo, Rufino, 1899-1991
    Villaurrutia, Xavier, 1903-1950
    Westphalen, Emilio Adolfo, 1911-