Dorothea Tanning

” Art has always been the raft onto which we climb to save our sanity. I don’t see a different purpose for it now.” Dorothea Tanning

The Tate Modern is currently showing an exhibition  of the work of Dorothea Tanning, a painter, sculptor, print maker, writer and poet. (1910-2012) I knew nothing of this artist until I wandered the vast spaces of the gallery and stumbled on her work….. and what a stumble it was!

Her art is exciting, uplifting and varied. Her life was one of reinvention, reshaping  and exploration of various media. As a woman married to a famous man, (the German painter Max Ernst) she carved out her own reputation as an acclaimed artist without falling into the ” famous wives” shadow land. The exhibition shows 100 of her works and its well curated.

Her early work was influenced by Surrealism.

Deidre 1940

She married Max Ernst in a double wedding ceremony with  the artists, Man Ray and Juliet Browner and from 1949  the couple lived in France until Ernst’s death in 1976. By 1960’s Tanning’s work was completely abstract and she also became a talented print maker and worked with soft sculpture as a medium.  When Max died she returned to New York. There began a very prolific period.

Daughters 1983

” Its hard to always be the same person.” Dorothea Tanning wrote.

She began writing poetry in  her 80’s and was also a prolific painter and writer at this age.

Poppies 1987

My favourite painting is entitled Family portrait. Painted in 1954 it works with scale to create the narrative. The towering father at the table. The dog nearly the same size as the housekeeper/ mother? The perky young woman (daughter?) looking away from all this blank and expressionless.

Family Portrait 1954

This exhibition is well worth a look if you are travelling to London. Or a travel to the Youtube clip is also worthwhile.



14 May 2019 | Arts

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