In her own words...


Am I a surrealist?  Am I a sophist, a Buddhist, a Zoroastrian?  Am I an extremist, an alchemist, a contortionist, a mythologist, a fantasist, a humorist?  Must we artists bow our heads and accept a label, without which we do not exist?  The underlying ideas of surrealism are still very much with me.  They are in the backs of a lot of other minds too, even in those so young as to have known only the records, the hearsay, the debris.  But I have no label except artist.

– Dorothea Tanning, 1989



New On View

"IMAGINE! 100 Years of International Surrealism" is open at The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels, and will run through July 21, 2024, before beginning a two-year tour to the Musée National d'Art Contemporain, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Hamburger Kunsthalle; Fundación Mapfré Madrid; and Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2025.  The exhibition celebrates the centennial of the Surrealist movement, with each partnering museum enhancing the core travelling group of works in all media with a focus on their own collections. Among the works on view in Brussels is the painting The Guest Room (1950-52).

"Désordres - Extraits de la collection Antoine de Galbert" will be on view at the Musée d'art contemporain de Lyon through July 7, 2024.  The exhibition features over 200 works of various media from the fields of modern art, contemporary art, art brut, and ethnography that, presented together in no particular order, challenge the museum and art world's conventional divisions into categories, movements and fields. As the collector has said, "It is really only the gaze of other people that can define a collection – which is actually a mode of expression in itself." Among the works displayed is the drawing "Etude pour Cousins" (1971).


"Les Visionnaires: In the Modernist Spirit" is on view through July 26, 2024 at the Hofstra University Museum of Art, Hempstead, New York.  The exhibition examines the persisting influence of the French avant-garde through works drawn from the Museum’s permanent collection and the Howard L. and Muriel Weingrow Collection of Avant-Garde Art and Literature in the University Library’s Special Collections, and includes the etching Orphans (1963).


"Surréalisme: Le Grand Jeu" is open at the Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts de Lausanne through August 25, 2024.  With this exhibition, the Museum marks 100 years since the publication of the first Surrealist manifesto and examines the movement’s fascination with the role of play and specific games together with broader concepts like esotericism and chance in Surrealist art.  Among the works on view will be the painting The Mirror (1950).


"Fantastic Visions: 100 Years of Surrealism from the National Galleries of Scotland" has opened at the Museum of Art Pudong in Shanghai, where it will remain on view until August 31, 2024. Drawn entirely from the collection of the National Galleries of Scotland and featuring over 100 major works by more than 50 artists, this is the first show devoted to Surrealism to be exhibited in China. Among the works on view are the suite of lithographs Les 7 Spectral Perils (1950), the sculpture Primitive Seating (1982), and the painting Tableau vivant (Living Picture) (1954).



New In Print

Amy Lyford has published Exquisite Dreams: The Art and Life Dorothea Tanning (Reaktion Books, 2023). In this new monograph, Lyford focuses on key examples of Tanning's work in various media from her early Surrealist imagery through her late-career paintings. By discussing them in relation to concurrent topics of 20th-century art, society, and popular culture, and highlighting the artist's own ideas about ways to view her art, including a satirical, fantasy-based, documentary-style film about her paintings, Lyford examines Tanning's singular approach to creating a rich visual experience for the viewer.


Anna Watz has edited a new collection of essays, A History of the Surrealist Novel (Cambridge University Press, 2023).  Her essay "The Mother Figure in the Surrealist Novel" and Catriona McAra's "Feminist-Surrealism in the Contemporary Novel" examine Tanning's novel Chasm: A Weekend, while Katharine Conley's essay "Autobiography" discusses Tanning's memoir Birthday in the context of Surrealist writings. These are among twenty scholarly essays that consider many texts previously left out of critical accounts of the surrealist movement -- texts written by men and women in French, English, Spanish, German, Greek, and Japanese, from its emergence in the 1920s and 1930s, through the post-war and postmodern periods, and up to the present moment.


Kasmin Gallery has published the exhibition catalogue Dorothea Tanning: Doesn’t the Paint Say It All?  Both the show and the book take their title from Tanning’s own essay entitled "To Paint," which is included in the publication. This poetic and impassioned text, first published in 1986, describes the artist's creative process and the nature of the medium itself.   The catalogue also explores the artist's unique surrealist practice and the tension between abstraction and figuration in her work through reflections on Tanning’s paintings by three art historians and scholars of surrealism: Mary Ann Caws, Katharine Conley, and Victoria Carruthers.  Hyperallergic nominated the publication as one of "The Best Art Books of 2022."   


Susan L. Power contemplates the motif of doors in her essay "Portes et miroirs dans le monde surconscient de Dorothea Tanning" in the exhibition catalogue SurréAlice: Lewis Carroll et les Surréalistes (Vol. 1 of 2, Strasbourg: Editions des Musées de Strasbourg, 2022, pp. 75-83). The publication explores the Surealists' interest in Carroll's work as a precursor and inspiration to their own.


Victoria Carruthers has published Dorothea Tanning: Transformations (Lund Humphries, 2020). 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 her enduring thematic preoccupations. The book is extensively illustrated and features previously unpublished material from interviews that the author conducted with Tanning between 2000 and 2009. Carruthers discusses the book in an interview found here.




In her own voice...


Dorothea Tanning: Insomia a short film made in 1978 by the German director Peter Schamoni – offers the opportunity to hear the artist's observations about her life and work and to see her in her home and studio in Seillans, France. The film is available by request through the Schamoni Film & Media Archive in Munich.




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)