Seeing as she only died a couple of months ago, it seemed pretty fitting to make Dorothea Tanning my Artist of the Week. She was an American Surrealist who worked in painting, sculpting and costume and theatre set design. In 1946, she married the German Surrealist/Dada painter Max Ernst, though she also worked closely with Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Yves Tanguy and Kay Sage. Her 100th birthday in 2010 led to international exhibitions celebrating her life and art, including one at The Drawing Centre in New York and the Max Ernst Museum in Bruhl, Germany.
Eine Kleine Nachtmusik 1943
In Eine Klein Nachtmusik, one of Tanning’s most recognisable pieces, we are presented with an eerie corridor and a giant fragmenting sunflower. However, it seems to be the two doll-like figures that are of a key interest, according to the Tate:
The doll is remarkably life-like and wears similar clothing to the girl standing nearby. Her status as a toy is only revealed by her hairline and the regularly moulded contours of her torso. The tattered state of the clothes worn by both the doll and the girl suggests that there has been some sort of struggle or encounter with powerful forces, and the girl’s long hair streams upwards as if blasted by an immensely powerful gust of wind. Tanning has said: ‘It’s about confrontation. Everyone believes he/she is his/her drama. While they don’t always have giant sunflowers (most aggressive of flowers) to contend with, there are always stairways, hallways, even very private theatres where the suffocations and the finalities are being played out, the blood red carpet or cruel yellows, the attacker, the delighted victim….’
Tanning’s work is pretty difficult to unpick without some sort of narrative from the artist herself, (much like all of the Surrealists/Dada artists). You can read Tanning’s thoughts about Interior with Sudden Joy at dorotheatanning.org.
… after three painful exams in four days, involving Renaissance society, eighteenth century British art and a horrendous history course which I would quite like to never talk about ever again, the bulk of my second year exams are now over. I have just one history exam next week and a 3,000 word take-away paper the week after. Why am I telling you this you may ask. Well it means that ArtMastered will be going back to normal with regular narratives and text captions. Sorry for my neglect over the past two weeks! And thank you to all new followers :)
Robert Delaunay was a French artist who worked in an abstract style, usually Cubist or Expressionist based. He founded the style and short-lived movement of Orphism with his wife and fellow abstract artist Sonia Delaunay. The style was epitomised by bright colours, dynamism and geometric forms juxtaposing with each other.
Champs de Mars, la Tour Rouge 1911
Champs de Mars, la Tour Rouge is my favourite piece by Delaunay. I love the angles of the buildings surrounding the Eiffel Tower and how the piece seems to crumble and yet stay sturdy all at the same time, thanks to the solidity of the geometric shapes.
The image below is perhaps the type of image most associated with Delaunay’s work. Rings of colour in a jigsaw-like composition create layers of depth to the picture plane. The circles of divided colour seem to follow the movement of the larger circles, emulating the intricate organisation of the inside of a machine.