Varda was born in Smyrna, Greece. In 1922, however, Greek troops in Asia Minor are routed by the Turkish army, which recaptures Smyrna, now called Izmir.

In her diaries Anais Nin wrote,
" On the way to the station, I had some extra time and visited the little fishing village of Izmir. The houses all of stone, the streets cobblestone, the women in black, the men looking as if they had spent their life on the sea. The little shops, street cafes, were all simple and bare. At the station I felt regret to not have know that Izmir was once called Smyrna Not to have imagined Varda in the little village, building boats (his first profession) until a tourist brought a ballet company to Izmir and Varda was asked to paint the sets. He did this with such color and fantasy that the group took him to Paris to study."

Varda's family moved to Alexandria and Athens. Varda studied the old Masters and Realism and was a portrait painter receiving commissions by age 12.


1912 Varda moved to Paris. Shared a studio with Braque. Disillusioned by the Dadaists and the Cubists, he broke from Art.

1914-1916 Moved to London. Varda was a dancer with the Imperial Royal Ballet in London.

"He had also danced with Nijinsky. He had an incredible background."
Victor di Suvero states in the Marin Independent Journal March 17, 1988.
[Nijinsky did not dance after 1917 - eds]

1916 - Varda is back in Paris doing studies anatomy at the Ecole des Beaux Arts.

Working with Mosaics Varda develops a style radically different from the traditional techniques he was taught in Greece. He also paints mosiac-like on mirrors. Met artists of the Modern School, Derian, Miro, etc.

"... Varda was an adventurer, an expatriate Greek who had worked in Paris in a studio with artists such as Braque and Miro... Having lived in Europe, Varda had the background to teach me the language of modern painting." -from Maria Wilson's interview in Grace Millennium Vol. 1 Issue 1. 2000

1922 - At 29, Varda has his first One Man show in London. "...which was a great success. From then on I lived on my painting..."

1922 - Varda meets Roland Penrose in Paris who is study painting with André Lhote

1923 - Varda goes to Cassis sur Mer, Southern France, with Roland who buys Villa les Mimosas. Roland builds studio with Varda "in a crumbling 20-room masion that constantly over flowed with indigent artists and was frequently visited by Picasso, Braque and MIro."


1939 Varda comes from Europe to New York for a one man show of his works at the Neumann Willard Gallery. The show sells out. Seven Mosaics are sold to Lathrop and Helen Hooper Brown.


1940 Varda goes to Mexico via Hollywood, California, for a show of his work. After his show he returns to Hollywood where he gets a studio.

1940 Varda moves to 'Crinkles Corner'] and Alexander Valley, CA. He shifts from Mosaics to Collages.

1940 Varda is in the "Art in Action" of the Fine Arts Pavillion of the San Francisco World Fair.

1940 Varda marries Virginia Barclay.

Varda becomes friends with Henry Miller who later extolled Varda's color theory.

Moves to Monterey after WWII starts. "Toiled long hours in a fishing boat during the war to increase the food supply."

1944 Commissioned by Container Corporation of American, Paul Theobald for advertising.

Varda taught at the 7 Arts Center in Carmel [dates unknown].

1944 Varda invited Henry Miller to Big Sur. Henry stays with Varda for several weeks while looking for a place of his own.

1944 First introduced to Anais Nin via correspondence by Henry Miller, Varda sent her a collage titled "Women Reconstructing the World." She frequently mentions Varda in her journals and creates a good description of Varda as both a person and an artist.

1945 Yanko was supposed to make a restaurant for Angelo DI Girolamo out of an old warehouse in Monterey. [from an article on Bruce Ariss Wharf]

May 1946, Varda's daughter is born.

July 1946 He taught at Black Mountain College summer arts session in North Carolina.

"Ms. Knight did find satisfaction in attracting students from Mr. Varda’s dance class to teach modern dance techniques which she had learned in New York." -From the Gwendolyn Knight page on the Black Mountain College Website

1947 An article entitled "Varda: The Master Builder" by Henry Miller is published in Circle Magazine, edited by George Leite in Berkeley.

1947-8 Moves to San Francisco, he and Virginia divorce.

In 1949 with Gordon Onslow Ford and Wolfgang Paalen, Varda moved onto the Vallejo. Advertises painting and color theory classes in the Sausalito News newspaper.

1949 - Sausalito News newspaper ad reads:

"Registration for the Varda series of ten, two-hour lecture demonstrations on color are still open. Early enrollment is advised for decorator, home-makers and art students as the size of the class must be limited." [3]


1946-1952 Varda taught at the Californa School of Fine Arts (later called the San Francisco Art Institute). In her diaries Anais Nin mentions he taught once a week.

1953 Included in the book "Artists in the Tamalpias Area.

1956 "Collages of Varda" short film by the Sacramento City College Art Department

1956-1958 Varda taught in New York at the Pratt Institute.

btwn 1955-1958 Varda appeared as a contestant opposite horseracing jockey Willy Shoemaker on the CBS game show "The 64,000 Dollar Question" and lost.

1959 September, Varda has a One Man show at the Oakland Museum, CA.

Varda makes a cameo in the film 'ANAIS NIN OBSERVED: A Film Portrait of a Woman as Artist' by Robert Snyder.

1960 - Created 16x20 foot wall mural mosaic for the old Villa Roma Hotel in SF.

1961 - launched summer art workshop retreat with Louisa Jenkins at St. Andrews Abbey in Valyermo, California.

1961 - Builds a $3000 house in Sonoma for Walter Landor using scavaged materials.

1964 - Varda collages used illustrated to cover of a book for Anais Nin called "Collages."

1965 - On the jury of the "5th Annual Art Show" at Sausalito Women's Club.

1965 - Has a One-Man show at Brand Library in California, circa May 1st.

1965 - Varda returned to Europe for a year's stay. Visits Malaga in Spain and the Vaucluse in Southern France

1966 (circa) "A Portfolio" by Jean Varda published by Kayak Press.

1967 Varda's neice, Agnes Varda, arrived from France and shot a wonderful quasi-surreal documentary film on him titled "Uncle Yanko". An accomplished filmmaker, she is known as "the grandmother of French New Wave."

1967 Varda participates in James Broughton's film "Bed."

1968 Selected Poems by Yvan Goll, translated by Robert Bly, George Hitchcock, Galway Kinnell, and Paul Zweig, edited by Zweig, with drawings by Jean Varda. San Francisco: Kayak Press, 1968. [Yvan died in 1950, but German manuscripts were found in 1967].

1968-69 Varda has a show of his artwork at California School of Fine Arts.

1970 - Clara Wiles gives a show of Varda's work at her home (in San Francisco?).

1970 - The last person to see Varda before he left for Mexico was Alica Bay Laurel.

Examiner does article about Varda's death and of the pouring of his ashes into the bay form his sailboat. Harriet Carter sang at Varda's wake. Saul Rhouda shot footage.

1971 De Young Memorial Museum gives Varda a One Man show, which due to his death, turned into a retrospecitve.

1973 Sausalito Arts Festival is dedicated to Jean Varda.

1974 "Poem For Jean Varda" by George Hitchcock.

1983 Little Gallery does a Varda Retrospecitve

1988 - Sausalito Art Fesitval tribute to Jean Varda

2002 Varda included in Beat Art Museum show in Norway

2002 August Virgina Goldstien-Barclay (Varda's wife in the 1940s) dies.

2002 Sept. Vallejo event commemorating Varda's Birthday



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