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Artists Dorothea Tanning

Dorothea Tanning

American Painter, Sculptor, Writer, and Poet

Dorothea Tanning Photo

Born: August 25, 1910 - Galesburg, Illinois

Died: January 31, 2012 - New York, New York

"Women artists. There is no such thing - or person. It's just as much a contradiction in terms as "man artist" or "elephant artist." You may be a woman and you may be an artist; but the one is a given and the other is you."

Dorothea Tanning Signature


Art pervades Dorothea Tanning's life; not only have the many images, objects, and texts that she created become worthwhile art, her very presence transformed photographs and moments in time to make them more artistic. The same whirling energy that followed Tanning as a person is also found in her energetic brushstroke, a phenomenon linked to the day of her birth, "a day of high wind," which was said to terrify her mother and, as a result, Tanning was born. The dominance of a frightening, unstoppable life force characterizes Tanning's entire oeuvre. With ideas too big for rural Illinois, a place "where nothing happened but the wallpaper", the artist left for Chicago, and then, once in New York found that both in style and in company she identified as a Surrealist (she married Max Ernst). With distinct progression through a long career, Tanning began by meticulously depicting her own dreams. This penetrating psychological exploration continued while her work evolved to become more abstract and sculptural. The folds of childhood dresses link these different phases, as cloth transforms from being the depicted subject to the material used. The final phase of the artist's career saw her become the "oldest living emerging poet", alongside collaboration with other renowned poets, and the production of a series of large-scale flower paintings.

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