In her own words...



On one of those birthdays of which I’ve had so many
I was walking home through the park from a party,

pleased with myself for not mentioning the birthday —
why hear congratulations for doing nothing but live?

The birthday was my secret with myself and gave me,
walking under all those trees, such a strong feeling of

satisfaction that everything else fell away: party sounds,
the hostess who stared and as suddenly disappeared

on seeing her husband walk in with a young(er) friend;
another guest examining garment labels in the room

where I went to leave my jacket; one of two waiters
balancing a trayful of foot-high champagne glasses;

a bee-like buzz of voices I ought to have enjoyed
but heard as foreign babble, so remote it was from

a birthday, so empty of import nothing would remain.
I got my jacket, waved from the hall, pressed Down.

In summer the park, for an hour or so before night,
is at its greenest, a whole implicit proposition

of green leaves, a triumph of leaves enfolding me
that day in a green intimacy so trustworthy I told

them my secret. “It’s my birthday,” I said out loud
before turning away to cross the avenue.

                          – Dorothea Tanning, 2002 


"Dorothea Tanning: Behind the Door, Another Invisible Door," a major survey of the artist's career, will be on view at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid  from October 3, 2018 through January 7, 2019).  It will then travel to Tate Modern, London, February 26 - June 9, 2019.  A full catalogue will be published in Spanish and English.  Among the works featured in this exhibition is the painting Woman Artist, Nude, Standing (1985-87).

"Virginia Woolf: An Exhibition Inspired by Her Writings" will be on view at The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, October 2 - December 9, 2018. The painting Agripedium vorax Saccherii (Clog Herb) (1997) is among the works in an exhibition considering feminist perspectives on landscape, domesticity, and identity in modern and contemporary art through the lens of Woolf's writings.

"Modern Couples: Art, Intimacy and the Avant-garde" will be on view at the Barbican Art Gallery, London, October 10, 2018 - January 27, 2019. The exhibition features several paintings from the 1940s, including A Very Happy Picture (1947).




Catriona McAra has published a monograph entitled A Surrealist Stratigraphy of Dorothea Tanning's Chasm (London: Routledge, 2017). As part of Routledge's "Studies in Surrealism" series, the book explores the artist's literary and visual work within a framework of cultural and feminist theory.

Dr. McAra also recently published the essay "Emma's Navel: Dorothea Tanning's Narrative Sculpture" in Intersections: Women Artists/
(Patricia Allmer, ed., Manchester University Press, 2016, pp. 91-111). The title refers to the sculpture Emma, 1970.

Sienna Freeman has published “Pulled, Stitched, and Stuffed: Materiality and the Abject in Dorothea Tanning’s Soft Sculpture” in Sightlines, the journal of the Department of Visual and Critical Studies of California College of the Arts (2016, pp. 17-29). The essay focuses on the installation piece Hôtel du Pavot, Chambre 202 (Poppy Hotel, Room 202) (1970-73).

Phaidon Press has published Art Is the Highest Form of Hope & Other Quotes by Artists (2016), a compilation that includes these words of Dorothea Tanning: “Art has always been the raft onto which we climb to save our sanity.”


Ongoing Projects

We are looking for information about a number of paintings in the effort to fully document Dorothea Tanning's work for a catalogue raisonné. If you have seen any of these paintings, please contact us.

Concerning Wishes (1942)

Le Petit Marquis (1947)

Angel in Mauve and Orange (Study for Anges gardiens) (1947)

Les Infatigables (The Indefatigables) (1965)