In her own words...



How much this artist’s life – movements, associations, circumstances, responsibilities, and allegiances – affected the direction in which her work moved is a subject for biography. And although this book presents the art of Dorothea Tanning, rather than the artist, some broad outline of the various events in her life must be noted, if only to affirm her identity. And if some cogent study of that art is to have clarity and value, it will come through a search into the life behind it where a consciousness has come into being, has experienced its world, has formed its ideas, and has brought them forth, for better or worse, as art. We may begin with a place, Galesburg, Illinois, and a date, August 25, 1910….
[....1995]  In New York City, Dorothea Tanning moves little except between apartment and studio, a few blocks away. She is very old. Asked her feelings about this, the answer is likely to be that she didn't know she was--a pardonable sophistry. Full of plans and work to be realized she is as busy as ever but rarely now forgets what time it is. On her agenda is a yearly trip to France to see old friends. Ten years ago she was writing a memoir that was published in 1986 (Birthday, Lapis Press). She is now overseeing the making of the present monograph, with the publisher's hearty consent.

She has mixed feelings about the art world today, still believing that paint is the supreme tool providing you know how to use it. But when buying a little tube of cadmium yellow for eighteen dollars she understands why young artists search for other means, be it cement or garbage. For Dorothea Tanning none of this matters because poetry, her now constant joy, has taken the place of nearly everything else in her days. Vast and alive, so rich and so imbued with, yes, anima, poetry offers her the world she thought she knew already. Not quite. She sees no way to drink it all in save for the privilege of another eighty-five years.

     –excerpts, p. 339 and pp. 353-354.


About this work

“Afterword” was written for Dorothea Tanning. New York: George Braziller, 1995, pp. 339-354.  Her "Artist’s Chronology,” pp. 355-363, can be found under the For Further Research: Chronology link above.