An interview with painter Dorothea Tanning
February 8, 2024 4:19 AM   Subscribe

[NSFW] "It’s just the way I am and the way I’ve thought all my life. I did a lot of reading. I’ve always been drawn towards esoteric phenomena: the illogical, the inexpressible, the impossible. Anything that is ordinary and frequent is uninteresting to me, so I have to go in a solitary and risky direction. If it strikes you as being enigmatic, well, I suppose that’s what I wanted it to do."

The link is a 1990 interview with painter Dorothea Tanning. Tanning was also a poet. A brief video feature on Tanning with footage of the artist at work. Dorothea Tanning defied convention.
posted by cupcakeninja (13 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Wow, she was married to Max Ernst? How a part of art history can a person get?
posted by y2karl at 4:47 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]

People talk about Surrealism as an art movement, like Abstract Expressionism or Impressionism. Surrealism is a philosophical movement.

She's right. The early Surrealists thought painting was too literal to effectively limn the contours of the unconscious. They preferred poetry.

Tanning moved past her history with Surrealism, though, and her later work, I think, was stranger and deeper than classic Surrealist work.
posted by kozad at 6:18 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]

Brilliant interview. Thanks so much for posting.
posted by effluvia at 7:32 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]

The “defied convection” link goes to an art for sale website. Is this intentional?
posted by njohnson23 at 11:20 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]

There was an exhibition of her work where I live not long ago. It was fabulous. I fell in love with one of her paintings (Tableau Vivant, the one pictured at the top and middle of this article), although a friend of mine was absolutely horrified by it. The dog pictured in the painting is Tanning's own, very small, dog.

> "Wow, she was married to Max Ernst?"

I mean, so were Peggy Guggenheim, Marie-Berthe Aurenche, and Luise Straus, and his lovers included Gala Éluard and Leonora Carrington. Ernst got AROUND.
posted by kyrademon at 11:28 AM on February 8 [5 favorites]

njohnson23, thanks for that catch. I don't know what happened, because the link was right when I looked before posting. It was supposed to go to this --

Mods, could you please swap this link in for the wrong one?
posted by cupcakeninja at 3:41 PM on February 8

Mod note: A few edits to a link and above the fold text made!
posted by travelingthyme (staff) at 3:47 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]

Thank you, travelingthyme!
posted by cupcakeninja at 3:51 PM on February 8

She was featured in this Great Art Explained video.
posted by praiseb at 3:56 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]

kyrademon, what a piece!
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 4:15 PM on February 8

I love her art. I keep wanting to get her novels, but I probably need to find them as books on tape at this point.
posted by The Manwich Horror at 8:20 AM on February 9

Amy Lyford is an art historian who recently wrote a biography of Dorothea Tanning. You can pre-order it here! It's coming out later this month.
posted by acridrabbit at 2:42 PM on February 9 [3 favorites]

Dorothea Tanning, a timeline (self link)
Thank you for posting this.
posted by adamvasco at 3:49 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]

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