CHRIS FREMANTLE

What art have I seen? Dorothea Tanning

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on April 9, 2019

Dorothea Tanning at the Tate Modern. Jake asked if in an exhibition of Max Ernst there would be so much reference to his wife – seems unlikely. Mostly we don’t know about the women in male artists’ lives, unless they are ‘muses’ or lovers. Tanning’s narrative in the interpretation panels is woven with Ernst’s.

Beside this it is also interesting that all the publicity images are from the first phase of her work, which is most obviously part of the Surrealist tradition we are familiar with. There is mention of the fabric sculptures, but no images of the later much more optically complex and freely painted works. These explore the fragmented sense of subconscious experience. Rather than glimpses through doors, we have actually fragmented elements merging in complex patterns and forms. The resolution of this in the room-scale installation of fabric forms is truly Lovecraftian.

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