Dorothea Tanning

"Dorothea Tanning was born in 1910 in Galesburg, Illinois and attended Knox College in her hometown before studying painting in Chicago (haunting the Art Institute where she learned what painting was.)   In 1941, now in New York, she met the art dealer, Julien Levy, and his surrealist friends, refugees from Nazi occupied France. Late in 1942 Max Ernst visited her studio, saw a painting, (Birthday), and stayed to play chess. They would have 34 years together, at first in Sedona, Arizona (a mere outpost at the time).  Here she would continue to paint her enigmatic versions of life on the inside, looking out: The Guest Room, The Truth About Comets, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Interior with Sudden Joy, Insomnias, Palaestra, Tamerlane, Far From. By 1956 Max and Dorothea had chosen to live and work thenceforth in France. Though Paris was headquarters, they preferred the country quiet lure in Touraine and Provence. These years included, for Dorothea Tanning, an intense five- year adventure in soft sculpture:  Cousins, Don Juan's Breakfast, Fetish, Rainy Day Canapé, Tragic Table, Verb, Xmas, Emma, Revelation or the End of the Month, Hôtel du Pavot Room 202.
Max Ernst died on April 1, 1976 and Dorothea faced a solitary future. “Go home,” said the paint tubes, the canvases, the brushes. Returning to the United States in the late 1970s, and still painting, Tango Lives, Woman Artist, On Avalon, Door 84, Still in the Studio, Blue Mom, Dionysos S.O.S., she gave full rein to her long felt compulsion to write.  Words, poetry.  Written, read, heard.  Would she join these voices even then?  Her poems have since appeared in a number of literary reviews and magazines, such as The Yale Review, Poetry, The Paris Review, The New Yorker, The Boston Review, The Southwest Review, Parnassus, and in Best Poems of 2002 and 2005. Her published works include two memoirs, Birthday and Between Lives, a collection of poems, A Table of Content, and a novel, Chasm.....Dorothea Tanning died at her home in New York City on January 31, 2012.  She was 101 years old, and had just published her second collection of poems."(dorotheatanning.org)






 "Now the doors are all open, the air is mother-of-pearl, and you know the way to tame a tiger. It will not elude you today for you have grabbed a brush, you have dipped it almost at random, so high is your rage, into the amalgam of color, formless on a docile palette.
As you drag lines like ropes across one brink of reality after another, annihilating the world you made yesterday and hated today, a new world heaves into sight. Again, the event progresses without the benefit of hours.
The application of color to a support, something to talk about when it’s all over, now holds you in thrall. The act is your accomplice. So are the tools, beakers, bottles, knives, glues, solubles, insolubles, tubes, plasters, cans; there is no end ..."Dorothea Tanning






 "Tanning’s early works – paintings such as Birthday and Eine kleine Nachtmusik (1943, Tate Modern, London) – were precise figurative renderings of dream-like situations. Like other Surrealist painters, she was meticulous in her attention to details and in building up surfaces with carefully muted brushstrokes. Through the late 1940s, she continued to paint depictions of unreal scenes, some of which combined erotic subjects with enigmatic symbols and desolate space. During this period she formed enduring friendships with, among others, Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Cornell, and John Cage; designed sets and costumes for several of George Balanchine's ballets, including The Night Shadow (1945) at the Metropolitan Opera House; and appeared in two of Hans Richter's avant-garde films.
Over the next decade, Tanning's painting evolved, becoming less explicit and more suggestive. Now working in Paris and Huismes, France, she began to move away from Surrealism and develop her own style. During the mid-1950s, her work radically changed and her images became increasingly fragmented and prismatic, exemplified in works such as Insomnias (1957, Moderna Museet, Stockholm). 








 As she explains, "Around 1955 my canvases literally splintered... I broke the mirror, you might say.”By the late 1960s, Tanning’s paintings were almost completely abstract, yet always suggestive of the female form. From 1969 to 1973, Tanning concentrated on a body of three-dimensional work, soft, fabric sculptures, five of which comprise the installation Hôtel du Pavot, Chambre 202 (1970–73) that is now in the permanent collection of the Musée National d'Art Moderne at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. During her time in France in the 1950s-70s, Tanning also became an active printmaker, working in ateliers of Georges Visat and Pierre Chave and collaborating on a number of limited edition artists’ books with such poets as Alain Bosquet, Rene Crevel, Lena Leclerq, and André Pieyre de Mandiargues.After her husband's death in 1976, Tanning remained in France for several years with a renewed concentration on her painting. These years included, for Dorothea Tanning, an intense five- year adventure in soft sculpture. By 1980 she had relocated her home and studio to New York and embarked on an energetic creative period in which she produced paintings, drawings, collages, and prints."Wikipedia 





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