To the Surrealist in All of Us


Rêve de Luxe (Dream of Luxury) 1944 16″x 20″ D.Tanning

Largely self-taught Dorothea Tanning
became largely known within
the Surrealism movement.

Ms.Tanning wasn't void
of formal training, having attended
for a time, the Art Institute
of Chicago. It isn't clear how
long she was at the Art Institute,
however it is written that she
herself claims to have learned how 
to paint by going to museums.

After college, Tanning worked as
a commercial artist doing
fashion advertising illustrations;
practicing painting on the side
in her spare time.

“Birthday” 1942 D.Tanning

She was heavily influenced by 
the Surrealism movement and
had her fashion advertisements
discovered by an art director
at Macy's who then introduced
her to gallery owner Julian Levy.
Levy's gallery was a venue for
Surrealists and avante-garde artists
in the 30's and 40's. 
Tanning was later introduced by Levy to
the German Dada artist Max Ernst who
was fond of her painting "Birthday".
At the time Ernst was married to Peggy
Guggenheim who owned The
Art of this Century Gallery which 
Ms.Tannings work would be considered
for in an exhibition with other women

Ernst and Tanning developed a
relationship which later resulted
in their becoming married.

Tannings paintings portrayed mysterious
imagery illuminating imaginary
and dreamlike scenes with
meticulous detail. The subjects
could be erotic and perplexing
with a sense of barrenness
within the space.

Insomnies (Insomnias), 1957

Tannings work continued to change
and progress over the years. In the
50's the paintings became more
prismatic as you can see in this
piece "Insomnies". Detail remains
part of her aesthetic however
with much more abstraction in the
overall visual message.

Her work is rather egnimatic in 
my view, and perhaps replicates aspects
of her own life history. She was
extremely talented in many areas
and seemed to explore the many
facets of her creativity with
a bold and strikingly honest

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