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"Yves Tanguy Retrospective"
2001-06-01 until 2001-09-16
Organized by the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart and presented
at The Menil Collection in Houston (in its only U.S.
venue) from June 1—September 16, 2001, this
retrospective exhibition honors the French painter Yves
Tanguy (1900—1955) on the centennial of his birth. A
member of the Surrealist group, founded by André
Breton in October 1924, Tanguy’s paintings are entirely
individualistic and meticulously painted. They consist,
typically, of unidentifiable objects, somewhat like marine
forms and rock formations, scattered in a vast landscape
of unreal, dreamlike perspectives.
more than any other Surrealist painter, in creating a
tangible but inexplicable reality of the unreal atmosphere
of a dream. This anniversary exhibition assembles 55
paintings, 15 works on paper, and one sculpture, all
created during the twenty-five years of Tanguy’s artistic
career. Essentially self-taught, Tanguy’s earliest works
show the initial influence of Cubism and Futurism. After
he met Breton in 1925, Tanguy’s art assumed the
idiosyncratic imagery that would become its hallmark.
Inspired by the harsh peninsulas, rough cliffs, and
Neolithic rock formations of his native Brittany, Tanguy
embraced and transformed this miraculous landscape in
abstract compositions of amoebic or bonelike forms
dominating a far horizon.
In 1939, Tanguy immigrated to America with painter Kay
Sage, whom he married the following year. In the early
1940s, Tanguy created a number of pictures that differed
from his earlier style in size, boldness of color, and
richness of form. He often remarked that the vast
expanse of the western American landscape (where he
made two impressionable trips) and the strong light were
contributing factors to this change. The colorful and
veiled formations of his American period absorb over half
of the picture’s height, radically altering their
compositional space. In these later works, Tanguy also
pushed his objects more towards the bottom edge of the
canvas, balancing the contrast between hard and soft,
metallic and organic. In the last years of his life, the
biomorphic elements so characteristic of Tanguy’s
compositions become sharp, stalagmite forms almost
sculptural in their placement on the picture plane. His
two last pictures seem to leave modern civilization far
behind; not only do they foreshadow the demarcation
line of the artist’s life, but they also make visible life at
the end of time.