Dorothea Margaret Tanning (August 25, 1910, Galesburg - January 31, 2012, New York) - American artist, sculptor, graphic artist, writer, one of the last representatives of surrealism.
Features of the artist Dorothea Tanning: we can say that Dorothea Tanning was a talented self-taught; she did not receive a system of art education (three months at the Chicago Institute of Arts do not count). Once in the early 1940s in the environment of surrealist artists, she accepted their ideas and transformed her artistic vision in accordance with them. Tanning's later works were filled with the dynamics of the movement associated with the philosophy of Henri Bergson and his ideas of flow, direct experience and intuition - from surrealism to abstractionism. The role of her colleague, the artist Max Ernst, whose wife she was, also affected her worldview. The artist was engaged in graphics, lithography, created a number of scenery and costumes for theatrical productions in Europe and America, made spatial textile sculptures. Her poems and books of memories created in the last years of her life were highly appreciated by readers and critics.
Dorothea Tanning was born in 1910 in Galesburg, Illinois, in the family of Andrew and Amanda Tanning. The second daughter in the family, the girl grew up in a Puritan environment and she is. Dorothea soon became fascinated by drawing, and even her children's drawings are very impressive. Parents did not interfere with this completely “female” hobby, and even organized a studio for their daughter. Dorothea graduated from high school and entered Knox Private College, where she studied for two years - here she illustrated school publications, but there was no drawing in the humanities course. When the girl turned twenty, she fled from the province that smelled her environment to a big city - they became Chicago. A brave fugitive was sheltered by former library friends in Galesburg, where she worked for some time. Dorothea works as a waitress in a small restaurant and fulfills her dream - she enters the full-time department of the Chicago Institute of Art. Her enthusiasm lasts only three weeks. This is not what she expected from teaching drawing, but the numerous paintings that adorn the halls of the Institute of Arts became her teachers: the inquisitive Dorothea could look at them for hours, soaking up techniques and ideas.
Tanning had time to work in the puppet theater before her first modest exhibition of watercolor works was held in New Orleans in 1934. A year later, Dorothea was already in New York: she was moonlighting as a commercial artist and actively getting acquainted with modern art trends. A year later, she enters the contemporary art exhibition “Fantastic Art, Dada and Surrealism”, which has become a turning point in her work. After spending half a year in San Francisco (she was invited to illustrate the monthly magazine), Dorothea returned to New York, and in July 1939, she boarded the steamer "New Amsterdam". Ahead loomed Paris - her cherished dream!
The French capital was horrified by the Nazi invasion. Dorothea stayed in Paris for a short time, fled to her relatives in several countries, and in October 1939 she returned to New York as the last steamer. After some time, she married the writer Homer Shannon - the marriage lasted only six months, and within a year the spouses divorced. Her collaboration with renowned art dealer and gallery owner Julien Levy (namely, he introduced the Americans to the works Frieda Kahloand later Salvador Dali) bore fruit: the artist often exhibited her work, began to buy paintings. In 1942, when, fleeing from the war, the whole “color” of the European surrealists moved to New York, Dorothea Tanning joined the group of Andre Breton.
Once, selecting paintings for the exhibition "30 artists", which the famous Peggy guggenheim, her husband, artist Max Ernst, noticed Dorothea's self-portrait, a picture "Birthday", and after meeting with the artist was captivated by the original. Max and Dorothea love each other. In 1944, the first solo exhibition of Dorothea Tanning was held at the Julien Levy Gallery. Meanwhile, the relationship with Max Ernst developed, Ernst divorced Peggy, and in 1946, Max and Dorothea were married in Beverly Hills. At the same time, their friends, the artist and photographer Man Ray and Juliet Browning, entered into legal marriage, the couples witnessed each other at the ceremony.
Having won the competition for writing pictures on the topic"The Temptation of St. Anthony" for a Hollywood movie, Ernst received a fee for which a piece of land was bought in the picturesque Arizona town of Sedona - in the distance there was a magnificent view of the Grand Canyon. Together with his assistant from among the admirers, Max himself built the house and workshops. From improvised means the artist built the sculpture "Capricorn", in whose honor the ranch was named "Hill of Capricorn." Max and Dorothea traveled, collected objects of art and everyday life of Indians, friends often came to them, getting into the atmosphere of the house - built to the taste of the owners, decorated with their own hands, surrounded by fantastic views of the Arizona nature. Here, on the Hill of Capricorn, there always reigned a creative atmosphere, freedom and fun.Henri Cartier-Bresson , Lee Miller, Marcel Duchamp,Roland Penrose , Pavel Chelischev,Yves Tanguy , George Balanchine were welcome guests on "Capricorn Hill". For Balanchine, Dorothea created scenographic solutions and ballet costumes. "Night Shadow"which had a great success in the Metropolitan Opera. In her arsenal - a large number of paintings depicting nude girlish figures, which art critics later called "Lolita."
Peacetime has breathed new life into European art. In 1948, the couple decided to move to France. In 1953, they moved to Paris, and two years later - in Touraine. Dorothea mastered lithography and released her first album of works “Seven spectral dangers”, designed a new ballet for Balanchine - "Witch"and also created costumes and decorations for Sadler’s London ballet troupe.
In 1951, Ernst and Tanning returned to the United States. Dorothea taught at the University of Hawaii painting and drawing, she worked a lot, regularly exhibited, collaborated with the New York ballet. But the sunny valleys of France attracted both - and in 1953, the artists again moved to Europe. They traveled a lot, visited Italy, bought a large studio for Dorothea in Paris, where she could create large-format works. In Provence, in the old village of Seylans, a house was bought, which was completely decorated according to the drawings and sketches of Dorothea and included two spacious studios - for her and the beloved Max.
Dorothea entered a new period of pictorial creativity, which she later called "prismatic", moving from surrealistic dream forms to abstractionism, a kindred visualization of music and emotions. Then she decided to try herself in sculpture, creating with the help of an old "singer" a number of abstract works from textiles, including the famous "tailed chair" and a large-scale installation “Hôtel du Pavot, room 202”.
Dorothea Tanning rarely gave interviews; she was most irritated by questions about family life with Max Ernst (she was his fourth wife), as well as various feminist provocations. But she was eager to tell about her work: “Imagine that you took a brush and plunged it - almost at random - into a mixture of colors on an obedient palette. You write the outlines and lines on the canvas as if you were pulling the ropes through one edge of reality to another, destroying the world you have created and at the moment you already hate, and then creating a new world on the canvas ... Finally, paint the paintings delight you. The act of creation is your accomplice and friend; there is never an end to the process of creativity ... "
The couple lived together until the death of Ernst in 1976. After burying her husband in the Pere Lachaise cemetery, Dorothea Tanning returned to her home in the United States and settled in New York. Here she lived for many years - she wrote a novel, two books of poems and memoirs. In the late 1990s, she created a dreamy, sensual series of works, “The Other Language of Flowers”, inviting 12 poets to write poems that accompanied each of the paintings. Tanning took part in the design of albums of famous rock groups, created a number of works in the technique of engraving and lithography, illustrated books, regularly participated in exhibitions in Europe and the USA.
Dorothea Tanning left the world at the age of 101. By its centenary in 2010Max Ernst Museum (Brühl, Germany) prepared an exhibit entitled “Happy Birthday Dorothea Tanning”. This was the last congratulation of Max Ernst to the beloved woman.