Saturday, March 14, 2015

Yves Tanguy, Storm (Black Landscape)

Yves Tanguy, Storm (Black Landscape), 1926
31.6 x 25.75 in.

Yves Tanguy (1900-1955) was a French surrealist painter.  In 1918 he joined the merchant navy and was then drafted into the army.  When he finished his service in 1922, Tanguy returned to Paris and worked various jobs.  By chance he saw a painting by Giorgio de Chirico, and was so moved that he decided to become a painter on the spot.  Although he had never studied painting at all, he set to work and became incredibly engrossed in his paintings.  In 1924, he met André Breton and became a member of his Surrealism circle.  This proved a fertile environment for the young artist, and he soon developed his own unique style, and had his first solo show in 1927. The bohemian lifestyle that Tanguy embraced in the 1930s led to the dissolution of his first marriage.  In 1938 he began a relationship with artist Kay Sage after seeing her work.  When World War II broke out, Tanguy followed Sage back to her native New York, where the two married in 1940.  The couple moved to Connecticut where they each had a studio.  Sadly, Tanguy died of a sudden stroke in 1955.  His paintings typically show vast abstract landscapes, populated by strange, surreal shapes and figures.  Among his most celebrated works is Mama, Papa is Wounded (1927).  Storm is somewhat different from most of Tanguy's works.  It is not as sparsely populated as they usually are and appears to be set underwater, rather than on a desert-like plane. The lifeforms that swim across the canvas bear some resemblance to real animals like squid or jelly fish.  The power of the painting largely comes from the way these forms seem to flash bright in the darkness, set against this extremely black background.  The inky density of the background does suggest the deep ocean, as well as the deep recesses of the psyche.

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