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
11 November, 2020 - 1 March, 2021
Mondrian and De Stijl
22 October, 2020 - 4 April, 2021
From North to South, Rhythms
14 October, 2020 - 11 January, 2021
Sound Experimentation 1980-2020
7 October, 2020 - 26 April, 2021
Niño de Elche
Invisible Auto Sacramental: A Sonic Representation from Val del Omar
23 September, 2020 - 1 March, 2021
Art in Sound up to 1980
29 July, 2020 - 11 January, 2021
Our Memory Is Being Stolen
17 July, 2020 - 28 February, 2021
To a raven and hurricanes that from unknown places bring back smells of humans in love
25 September 2020 – 5 February 2021
What Are We Doing Here?
Alternative Spaces in Madrid at the Turn of the CenturyMuestras documentales, Biblioteca y Centro de Documentación