Dorothea Tanning (1910–2012) is widely regarded as one of the twentieth century’s most important and multifaceted women artists, an association, however, which she spurned: “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”. Tanning developed her extensive, exhaustive and expressive body of work between the USA and France, producing paintings, drawings, costume and set designs for ballets, “soft” sculptures, novels and poems. Her work tells stories which are etched into a personal universe she used to give meaning to modern life and, in a surreal setting — brimming with fantasy and phantoms — shaped in a space which is at once seductive and pernicious.
The exhibition revolves around themed rooms drifting through the periods which were integral to Tanning’s career — spanning childhood and family scenes, girls dressed in Victorian clothing, baroque and bucolic nudes, red-rock deserts, and representations of flowers, highly pertinent in her mature work. Moreover, her installations include Chambre 202, Hôtel du Pavot [Poppy Hotel, Room 202] (1970–1973), with amorphous sculptures inviting visitors to see, feel and be part of the surreal world she inhabits.
Tanning breaks down the distance between artwork and spectator, seeking to make her work an invitation to transcend rather than reflect the world. A female-dominated world of open doors and revelations brings on chaos in a traditional domestic space that pulses and arouses a strange curiosity. Do we dare to enter her fairy tale, a house with open doors, a residence inhabited by odd creatures, to move into a sunburnt landscape? In the words of the artist: “I wanted to lead the eye towards spaces that hid, revealed, transformed all at once and where there would be some never-before-seen image, as if it had appeared with no help from me”.
In collaboration with:
Reina Sofia Museum's Publications
17 October 2018 – 4 March 2019
Hospice of Failed Utopias
9 October 2018 – 10 March 2019
Guilt and Debts
26 September 2018 – 7 January 2019
The Map and the Territory
13 June 2018 – 7 January 2019
An Approach to Afal
The Autric-Tamayo Donation
6 June – 22 October 2018
Russian Dada 1914–1924
From November 22, 2017
Cubism(s) and Experiences of Modernity
10 October, 2018 – 15 February, 2019
A movement that will not be fixed: Kazuo Ohno and La ArgentinaBiblioteca y Centro de Documentación