new-york

Dorothea Tanning

Stephen Mazoh & Co., Inc.

These are grand, weird, sinister, absurd images, painted with the same ambition that gave Michelangelo his claim to terribilità, but in a lower, peculiarly more frightening and volatile key. Dorothea Tanning was Max Ernst’s wife, famous from a photograph of herself with Ernst—she looking splendidly uncensored, hypererotically charged in a world in which everything was sexualized, he like a preternaturally calm imp. In these paintings she is heir to the Surrealist magic, the keeper of its uncompromising flame. Still urgently in pursuit of the marvelous, she comes up with pictures that are so purely fantasy that they can be read as allegorical personifications of the unconscious itself. It is as though Tanning were deliberately showing us that Surrealism can never be stamped out, even by misunderstanding.

Tanning’s paintings show the Surrealist essence as through a glass darkly, from an “

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