Surrealist Dorothea Tanning Remembered


Dorothea Tanning was a great Surrealist artist, and one of, if not ‘the’ last of the proponents of the surrealism movement. We are remembering her, her relationships with many of the time’s greats including her husband Max Ernst, and her many expressive works. She passed away earlier this week, after a life that spanned over a century.

Dorothea Tanning. Image via

The last of the Surrealists from the movement’s golden age, Tanning passed away on Tuesday at the age of 101. Her second anthology of poems, Coming to That, was published just last year. So, allow us to pay homage to this great painter, sculptor, poet, and popular friend to some of the 20th century’s great visionaries.

Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning playing chess. Image via totumrevolutum

Trained as a painter, Dorothea found Dada and Surrealism in New York, first having encountered it at a Museum of Modern Art exhibition. Subsequently, she was introduced to the wider world of Surrealism in 1941 upon meeting art dealer Julien Levy in New York. He had many surrealist friends. The following year, the prolific German artist Max Ernst payed Tanning a visit at her studio. A game of chess ensued, as did a 34 year relationship. Dorothea lived in New York in her early and later life, and in the cities of Touraine and Provence in France, with Ernst.

Images via

Above is a selection of her artworks which show influences from her daily life, such as chess. The last painting featured in the gallery is titled ‘Birthday’ which is a particularly special piece. It was the first work Ernst saw by Tanning when he visited her that fateful day in the early 40s. From her book of anecdotes, also titled Birthday, is the following excerpt, telling of Ernst’s reaction to her self-portrait.

“Please come in,” I smiled, trying to say it as if to just anyone. He hesitated, stamping his feet on the doormat… We moved to the studio, a livelier place in any case, and there on an easel was the portrait, not quite finished. He looked while I tried not to. At last, “What do you call it?” he asked. “I really haven’t a title.” “Then you can call it Birthday.” Just like that.

Information for this article was taken from The Dorothea Tanning Collection and Archive.

written by soundfoodaround on 2012-02-03 #news #artist #painter #sculptor #surrealist #dorothea-tanning #max-ernst


  1. oneira1927
    oneira1927 ·

    painting #6 is actually by Leonora Carrington, another amazing surrealist:)

  2. elvirab
    elvirab ·

    Nope not even, #6 is actually by Remedios Varo I think

  3. soundfoodaround
    soundfoodaround ·

    @elvirab. Thank you for pointing this out! Have removed #6.

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