In her own words...
About this work
"Dorothea, ses jeux, son enfer... (Dorothea, Her Lights and Shadows)"
Galesburg, où rien ne se passe, sauf le papier peint.
A day of high wind. A regular hurricane that blew down one of the three poplars in front of our house. My mother was terrified. So I was born. The following perils were thus created:
1. The peril of angels and geniuses
2. The peril of flexible cruelties
3. The peril of the square root
4. The peril of joining the immortals
5. The peril of calm, the sepulchral hours of the day
6. The peril of the sea on the floor
7. The peril of white
Should everything be told, the whole truth? This is Galesburg, Illinois, my birthplace. This is my father's desk, my father from Sweden: Andreas Peter Georg Thaning was seventeen years old when he came to America. He never left. There are letters spread around on his desk and more letters in the pigeon-holes. We must not touch them, they are family letters. We must not touch anything on this desk. So we will never know much about his past. Mother says that he left a great family back there, with a beautiful house, stables, lands. Why should I care? For he can draw a horse so well you'd think it was ready to talk (Mother's words). And here is the pure truth about my father: he was horse-crazy. We see him there in the vestibule of that beautiful house in Skone, Sweden, his suitcase beside him. He is waiting to say goodbye to his father. (Had he not already lost his mother at the time?) But his father does not come down. Barricaded behind his pince-nez and his pretentions (there is a photograph of the old codger actually wearing a monocle, can you imagine?) he repudiates the boy. And Andreas the renegade goes his way, never to return. In his blue eyes the reflexion of a vision: the Far West.
But the desk full of letters is in Illinois. How did my father wind up in this Godforsaken town, how could he prefer it to the beautiful house in Skone? Here is no sign of the far west nor of the horses he had dreamed of taming. Nothing but his marvelous way of drawing a horse, a wild horse with defiant eye, drawn on any old scrap of paper that came to hand....)
“Dorothea, ses jeux, son enfer..." was first published in Dorothea Tanning, a special edition of XXe Siècle, Paris: Editions XXe Siècle, 1977, pp. 5-15. A translation, "Dorothea Her Lights and Shadows (a scenario)," was published in 1979 in the exhibition catalogue, Dorothea Tanning: 10 Recent Paintings and a Biography, New York: Gimpel-Weitzenhoffer Gallery.