About this work

Toy Theater

Dorothea Tanning, Max Ernst, and William N. Copley

c. 1948
Mixed media construction with three paper collage-rolls
7 1/2 x 11 x 3 in.

"In the late 1940’s, the artists Max Ernst, Dorothea Tanning and William Copley, who were spending Christmas together at the Ernst home in Sedona, Arizona, created this toy theater as a gift for their friend Julien Levy in New York."
     —from Sotheby's New York, Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture from the Julien Levy Collection, Sale 4719M, Nov. 4-5, 1981, lot 105.

"It is not known which of the artists made the theater itself, but the wonderful collaged scrolls, made to be unrolled on the spindles hidden behind the proscenium, are each signed....Tanning's 'Eau Lumiere Éléctrique et Opéra à Tous les Étages. Film documentaire de Dorothea' is a small lyrical masterpiece.  Printed music and scenes of 19th-century bourgeois families dining soon give way to a profusion of steel-engraved owls and exotic birds' nests, dancers and acrobats, bored lap dogs and a cow with an owl's head being led down a country lane."
     —from Sotheby's New York, Fine Books and Manuscripts, Sale NO8755, June 17, 2011, lot 111.

The photograph of Max Ernst, included in his scroll shown here, was a portrait taken by Frederick Sommer in 1946.

In her own words...