Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Eine Kleine Nachtmusik

Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, 1943
Dorothea Tanning (American, 1910-2012)
Oil on canvas
16 1/8 x 24 in.
Tate Modern, London

We've lost 2 artists this week, one to old age and one to life itself it seems, so I thought I would focus on them for some daily art. Dorothea Tanning died yesterday at the age of 101. Who do you think of when you hear the term Surrealism? Most people start with Dali and go from there. One of my favorites has always been Dorothea Tanning. The painting I've posted is one of her most well known, but I highly recommend spending some time looking at others. There is a great website dedicated to her and her work at www.dorotheatanning.org. I will admit, that while I enjoy spending time with surrealist works, I've never quite gotten the hang of talking about them, though now as I start reading I realize that I never spent much time with Surrealism after I developed my interest in psychoanalysis and art (which would seem like it should have been obvious, but alas). I am going to share quote of Tanning from the short essay about the work from the Tate Modern.

Tanning has said: ‘It’s about confrontation. Everyone believes he/she is his/her drama. While they don’t always have giant sunflowers (most aggressive of flowers) to contend with, there are always stairways, hallways, even very private theatres where the suffocations and the finalities are being played out, the blood red carpet or cruel yellows, the attacker, the delighted victim....’ (Letter to the author, 1999)

Check out the full summary of the work.

I do now have quite the fascination with sunflowers though. One of the things I do love about the paintings of Tanning's I have seen and other surrealists such as Leonora Carrington, Yves Tanguy, and Max Ernst, is how intimate they are, this is not a large painting, you can stand in front of it and really spend time with the strange and wonderful story and detail.

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As a woman and an artist I am really annoyed with myself for not knowing that Dorothea Tanning was even still alive, I'd always assumed that as a contemporary of Dali, Ernst and the other surrealists she was like them long dead. Tanning never received the attention she desrved, most probably because she was a woman!

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