The Surreal Visions of Josephine Tota
The Surreal Visions of Josephine Tota features over 80 paintings and objects created by Josephine Tota (1911-1996), a first-generation Italian immigrant. Tota, though reserved and reluctant to discuss her art, produced a decade’s worth of wild, brightly colored, and deeply symbolic paintings toward the end of her life, most of which have never before been exhibited. She channeled her obsessive energy, personal hardships, and a lifetime of memories into harrowing, self-referential paintings. Surreal Visions explores the richness of Tota’s unique imagination while challenging stereotypical ideas about artists who work outside the mainstream.

Despite her relative isolation in producing this body of work, Tota was profoundly influenced by years of amateur art classes and her personal interest in medieval and modern art, particularly the work of Surrealist artists Frida Kahlo and Salvador Dali. These influences, combined with references to fairy tales and children’s book illustrations, resulted in a unique personal vision that guided her creative impulse. Tota’s work cannot be defined as entirely mainstream, outsider, visionary, or surreal. It is instead a rich tapestry that weaves numerous influences into a vibrant and singular body of work.

Organized in collaboration with the Memorial Art Gallery of the Univeristy of Rochester, this groundbreaking exhibition demonstrates that Josephine Tota was a singular artist whose late-in-life artistic awakening merits attention and celebration.

Number of Works:
94 objects including 93 framed paintings and 1 painted dress form
Organized by:
The Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
Jessica Marten, Curator in Charge/Curator of American Art at the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester
Approximate size:
250-300 linear feet
High security
Participation Fee:
Exhibitors pay outgoing shipping for venues in the contiguous US
Booking Period:
8 weeks
January 2019 – December 2020
April 2019 – December 2020

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