| Yves Tanguy was born in Paris in 1900, the son
of a retired naval officer. He spent the summers of his childhood
in Brittany where he saw the dolmens (prehistoric stones) that
would inspire some of the forms of his landscapes years later.
In 1930, a visit to Africa exposed him to other unusual rock
formations, which also contributed to his fantastic landscape
These are dolmens.
Yves Tanguy saw prehistoric rock formations such as these
when he was a child. In what ways do you think his painting
was influenced by the dolmens?
Tanguy was always reluctant to discuss his work, so we don't know
much about the way he painted. From studying his drawings, it appears
that he allowed his hand to flow across the paper, without control
of his conscious mind. This technique in Surrealism is known as
automatism. Tanguy said, "The
painting develops before my eyes, unfolding its surprises as it
progresses. It is this which gives me the sense of complete liberty
and for this reason, I am incapable of forming a plan or making
a sketch beforehand." This statement implies that he probably drew
directly on canvas before and during painting, allowing the image
to develop spontaneously.
In 1939, Tanguy fled Nazi-occupied Europe and immigrated to the
United States. There he settled in Woodbury, Connecticut, with his
wife, the American painter, Kay Sage. He remained there until his
early death in 1955. Throughout his artistic career, Tanguy remained
faithful to Surrealist beliefs, creating pictures that are contradictory,
about worlds which exist and yet do not exist.
of creating a work of art without the use of thought or the conscious
Return to the TOP of the page ]