ArtsConnectEd/ArtsNet Minnesota
Inner Worlds

Art and Artists
 Arthur Dove
 Richard Hunt
 Cheryl Laemmle
 Betye Saar
 Kay Sage
 Yves Tanguy
 Jane Tuckerman

What is Art? Environment Identity Designing Spaces and Places
Yves Tanguy
About the Artist

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 imagery.

Dolmen, - used with permission
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.

Vocabulary Terms

automatism--Technique of creating a work of art without the use of thought or the conscious mind.

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Inner Worlds | What Is Art? | Environment | Designing Spaces and Places | Identity
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