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:
Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid: 3 October 2018 – 7 January 2019
Tate Modern, Londres: 27 February – 9 June 2019
Reina Sofia Museum's Publications
From 14 May, 2020
With Three Wounds, I
From 13 April, 2020
Before the Threshold
18 December 2019 - 2 November, 2020
Ignacio Gómez de Liaño
11 October, 2019 - 30 August, 2020
Time Is Mute
25 September, 2019 - 27 July, 2020
Delphine Seyrig and the Feminist Video Collectives in France in the 1970s and 1980s
From 5 December, 2018
The Poetics of Democracy
Images and Counter-Images from the Spanish Transition
From 21 February, 2020
Kontakt with Guy Schraenen
Artists’ Publications, Sound, Films, and MoreMuestras documentales, Biblioteca y Centro de Documentación