In her own words...

Wherever there are people there lurks a bicycle. The humble bike with all its utility showing, its frame-work an emblem and a foil for the spaces in between, is thinking of its past, not quite distant. The gorilla remembers, too, back to the eye of time, when somehow he was left behind. Man jumped on a bicycle and sped away and does not now remember. But the bicycle is full of dreams, fast and slow, and the gorilla is full of silence, and here I am an artist who has promised to bring them together.
             – Dorothea Tanning, 1990

Message 11 (1989)


Alison Jacques Gallery in London presents a solo exhibition of late works on paper, "Dorothea Tanning: Worlds in Collision" through March 21. The show's selection displays the artist's meditations on the symbolic imagery of the bicycle and the impact of modern technologies in works such as Message 11 (1989) and Between Lives (1989).

"New Images of Man" has opened at Blum & Poe in Los Angeles.  Curated by Alison M. Gingeras, the exhbition revisits and expands upon the seminal 1959 exhibition of the same title curated by Peter Selz at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, a show that brought together artists whose work grappled with the human condition as well as emerging modes of humanist representation in painting and sculpture in the wake of the traumatic fallout of the Second World War.  “New Images of Man” is on view through March 14, and includes the painting Quotidien (Quotidian) (1973).  

The Centraal Museum in Utrecht presents "The Tears of Eros: Moesman, Surrealism, and the Sexes" through May 24.  The exhibition examines the work of the Dutch Surrealist Johannes Moesman (1909-1988), who explored sexual fantasy and transgression in his art, in the context of Surrealist works from his own time through the present day.  The show includes the sculptures Pelote d'épingles pouvant servir de fétiche (Pincushion to Serve as Fetish) (1965) and Nue couchée (Reclining Nude) (1969-70).

"Fantastic Women: Surreal Worlds from Meret Oppenheim to Frida Kahlo" is on view at the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt through May 24, after which it will travel to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark, June 18 - September 27, 2020.  The exhibition presents 260 works by 34 international female artists to reveal the underrecognized breadth and depth of their contri­bu­tion to Surre­alism.  Among eight paintings by Tanning is Voltage (1942).

The Menil Collection presents "Photography and the Surreal Imagination" through June 14. Drawn from both the Menil's holdings and nearby Houston collections, this exhibition considers the tension between documentation and invention and the legacy of Surrealism in modern and contemporary photography. It features the collage Still Calling Still Hoping (1988), which has recently entered The Menil Collection and includes a photocopy of the artist's own hand.

“Dorothea Tanning: Printmaker” will open at Farleys House & Gallery, the historic home of Lee Miller and Roland Penrose in Muddles Green, East Sussex.  On view from May 21 - July 12, the exhibition will focus on the artist's graphic works, presented in a setting she knew well from numerous visits to see her friends the Penroses.  Among the works will be the etching Nue Couchée (Reclining Nude) (1965).

"Beyond Realism: Dada and Surrealism" celebrates highlights from the collection of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh.  On view through October 25, the installation includes over 40 works that explore one or both of the two principal appraoches of Surrealist art: the first form that relies upon unpremeditated or chance effects, and the second that offers apparently irrational images in a realistic style.  The exhibition includes the Gallery's newly acquired painting Tableau Vivant (Living Picture) (1954).

"Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser" at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, will explore Lewis Carroll's classic text Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland from its origins through 157 years of adaptations and reinventions.  This immersive and theatrical show will be on view June 27, 2020 - January 10, 2021, and include the painting Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (1943).



Victoria Carruthers has published Dorothea Tanning: Transformations, released by Lund Humphries.  A definitive study of the artist's life and career, this monograph provides a framework within which to consider the range and depth of Tanning's work and thematic preoccupations.  The book is extensively illustrated and features previously unpublished material from interviews which the author conducted with the artist between 2000 and 2009.

Claire-Louise Bennett is releasing Fish Out of Water, published by Juxta Press as part of its Words for Portraits series of essays and short stories from English- and Italian-language authors written on a portrait of their choice. Drawing inspiration from the painting Self-Portrait (1944), this book is a meditation on Tanning's life, art, and portraiture, and the rebellious internal worlds and nascent creativity that defined the childhoods of the artist and the author.

A new catalogue, Max Ernst – D-paintings – Zeitreise der Liebe, has just been published by the Max Ernst Museum Brühl of the LVR in conjuntion with an exhibition on view through March 22, 2020.  The exhibition and catalogue celebrate a set of paintings created by Ernst from the time he first met Dorothea Tanning in 1942 until his death in 1976.  Every year Ernst gave Tanning a work for her birthday, almost always hiding the letter D for Dorothea.  Dr. Jürgen Pech examines all 36 "D-paintings" together with important contemporaneous works by Tanning and numerous photographs, letters, and other documents in a fully illustrated double biography that portrays their extraordinary love story.

De kloof – een weekend, a Dutch language version of Dorothea Tanning's novel Chasm: A Weekend, has been publiished by Uitgeverij Orlando, Amsterdam.   

Catriona McAra, University Curator at Leeds Arts University, has published "Glowing Like Phosphorus: Dorothea Tanning and the Sedona Western" in Journal of Surrealism and the Americas (10:1 [2019], pp. 84-105). In this article, Dr. McAra examines the emergence of the Hollywood Western as a formidable pop cultural format during the 1940s-50s, and the complex role it played in the surrealist art and literature from that period. The author examines the work of Ernst and Tanning created during their time living in Sedona, Arizona, where filmmakers were also drawn to the iconic red rock landscape.

The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid has published a fully illustrated catalogue in conjunction with the exhibition "Dorothea Tanning: Behind the Door, Another Invisible Door." The catalogue includes essays by exhibition curator Alyce Mahon, who gives an overview of the artist's career, and Tate curator Ann Coxon, who explores Tanning's work in light of the legacies of Surrealism and contemporary art practice. The catalogue is published in Spanish and English.


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)