Works 1942 - 1992 - Camden Art Centre

Tannings powerful, erotically charged work, presented a kind of alternative universe, peopled with mythical beings, often part human, part animal or object, engaged in enigmatic dramas.

It evoked the terrors and delights of childhood imaginings and seems to operate at the interface between reality and dreams. Although the themes and concerns of her paintings had remained constant, the precision and detail of her earlier work gradually gave way to a more exuberant and liberated style which fully conveyed Tanning’s energy and painterly skills.

The exhibition was organised by Malmö Konsthall in close collaboration with the artist. It comprised a selection of paintings, soft sculpture and works on paper made over the last five decades, from the famous self-portrait Birthday, 1942, which may be said to have launched her career, right up to the very latest collages and drawings. This was Tanning’s first solo exhibition in a public gallery in Britain and provided a long-overdue opportunity to gain an overview of the work of this remarkable artist.


Images The Artist Supporters

The Artist

Dorothea Tanning was born in Galesburg, Illanois in 1910. She moved to New York in 1935 where she worked as a commercial artist. In the same year she saw the exhibition Fantastic Art, Dada and Surrealism at the Museum of Modern Art and immediately recognised her affinity with this kind of work. She was signed in 1941 by Julien Levy, pioneering art dealer for surrealism, and introduced by him to the Surrealists, newly arrived in New York. At that time she met Max Ernst whom she married in 1946. They moved to France in 1953 where she remained until returning to New York in 1980.