About this work
Oil on canvas
35 x 45 5/8 in.
In her own words...
Alain Jouffroy: Looking at your paintings, I often think about your life, about all its strange, unsettling or banal events. Yet, on the face of it, your work does not seem autobiographical. Am I wrong?
Dorothea Tanning: Well, I think everything we do is autobiographical. So one of my reasons for painting was really to escape my biography. Are we the prisoners of our events or can another life be entirely made up? For instance, to excuse absurd or dubious actions, I tell myself that I am "fulfilling my destiny." But how do I know that I am fulfilling my destiny? It may be my counter-destiny, or my anti-destiny. I may be crushing my destiny. Or it may be a mistake and I am fulfilling someone else's. There is little in my painting that corresponds to my physical life; I never saw a Palaestra or an evening in Salonika. I have never known such turbulent philosophers or Dionysiacs. But there is the story of my dreams. The doors in "Birthday" lead to those events that happen in "Lightning Visit." Autobiography, in any case, if it isn't a blatant lie, is at best a distorting mirror.
– from “Interview with Dorothea Tanning" in Dorothea Tanning, retrospective exhibition catalogue, Malmö, Sweden: Malmö Konsthall, 1993, pp. 49-51. This interview was originally published as "Questions pour Dorothea Tanning entretien avec Alain Jouffroy, Mars 1974,” in Dorothea Tanning: Oeuvre, retrospective exhibition catalogue, Paris: Centre National D'Art Contemporain, 1974.