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Dorothea Tanning. (1910 - 2012). Birthday. 1942. Surrealism. 

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Video : Dorothea Tanning. (1910 – 2012).

Dorothea Tanning. (1910 - 2012). Birthday. 1942. Surrealism. 

In 1936 Dorothea Tanning visits a surrealist exposure to the Museum of Modern art of New York. When it leaves there it made its decision : it decides to paint. But which said that the museums and the exposures are not used for nothing ? She attends the surrealist ones exiled in the United States because of the war and becomes the partner of max Ernst which influences it little in its work. Dorothea has its personal visions and a rich and specifically female dream universe. She reverses the erotic prospect in art and represents more the phantasms of the woman as being typically female rather than the projection of the desire of the man. 
The artist having incipient in 1910 and the painting having been realized in 1942 the birthday of which it is question is that of its 32 years. Between 30 and 40 years the human being arrives about at half of its life. I.e. that it does not know if it remains to him as much of lifespan in front of than behind him. This irrefutable fact starts the process of individuation or integration of the personality. (Read Carl R. Rogers on this subject, On Becoming a Person, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1961.) The dreams which rise from this situation are dreams of individuation or integration, the same dreams as Carl. Gustav. Jung names “great dreams”. This painting is a work of individuation. It is a self-portrait and the place of the artist in space is the same one as in time. The person is with crossroads. The doors being behind it, on the left, represent the traversed way. On the right the open doors represent the way or the time life which it remains to traverse. With crossroads, between passed and future the person takes stock. This self-portrait shows various aspects of its personality. On the level of the symbols the colours top of the dress, gold and purple are important. The bottom of the skirt made of foliage has a significance. The animal on the ground half cat and half bird, being close to the griffon, has to him also a rather particular direction. Let us scratch are also the waste-gas mains in the Gothic architecture of the end of the Middle Ages. They represent the force and vigilance and are judicious to assemble the guard. 
However the figure of the most known waste-gas main and most widespread remains the dragon which is frequently associated with the image of the evil or the demon. And attention if this griffon is it there is that it belongs to personality of the artist who discovers here his major duality and certainly also his a little irrational nature.

The point of view of the spectator is at the level of the shoulder of the model. In the present. Very quickly the glance of the spectator realizes that there exists a vast space expressed on the right by a series of open doors. These doors symbolize time. In continuation as there are also doors behind the young woman it becomes aware that there is also space behind her. As the scene is located inside a house it is here about a personal space. As in the dream the house reflects the psychical reality of the moment. 

Dorothea is on the left tension field between 2 natural points of interest. 
On the right tension field are carry them open doors and the griffon. The past located in the back of the model is known it does not pose a problem. The future is more dubious because it is unknown. What is important is located on the tension fields. 
The question which the artist puts is this one. Me and my major and true nature, where all this thus will carry out me. The dreams of individuation often raise existential questions about the direction of the life and its direction and this picture are similar to such a dream. 

Pictorial space represents time and is divided into 3 moments. On the left behind the self-portrait of the artist the past is. Represented on the right by a succession of open doors the future is distinguished. In the center and in front of the model is the present. The present is the moment or the person takes stock. Its appearance, its hairstyle, the colour of its clothes, and the animal located at the foreground in front of her are as many indications and of symbols on its frame of mind and its psychical reality of the moment. 

The painting is invaded by multiple vertical lines. The model is completely framed. Even in the present the orientation of the blades of the ground floor give the direction of walk. These lines and these framings mark time and its inescapable nature. One cannot escape from it. The person cannot be unaware of it. Work is built on the downward diagonal from left to right. If the child progresses until becoming adult adult once the person does not progress more physically, it can thus only decline if it advances in time. All that it has receipt physically cannot increase any more and thus goes down. For a woman to age means to lose in beauty. 

Detail : 

The artist represents barechested what shows its intention well to be revealed in its intimacy. The hair is not attached but in freedom. The hair is a product of our union with animal nature. It is about a rough nature, primitive forces if they are not channeled (the hair is in freedom) the individual tends to let be expressed its interior primitive forces. The shirt is out of silk and expresses a delicate and refined personality. At the level of the colours the purple one is located between the red, acting colour associated with sexuality and the desire and blue symbol of immortality and spirituality. In the Christian church the purple one is the colour carried by the bishops. It is a powerful symbol of spirituality, like gilded. 

The back of the skirt consists of algae or a foliage of green colour. The green means natural and regeneration. The plants are the perfect symbol to express a psychic growth because without them the miracle of flowering is not possible. 
This attribute confers on the model the appearance of a being close to nature like the elf. The elves are legendary characters born in the middle of Germanic and Scandinavian mythologies regarded at the origin as divinities of fruitfulness.
They are air and luminous spirits, described like gracious and benevolent beings. They live in contact with the gods, with whom they maintain the cordial relations. They flee the company of the men, but it is told sometimes that they come to dance with the moonlight in the middle of the forests. These elves are equipped with a great intelligence. One also allots an exceptional beauty and sometimes gifts to them of magic.

The animal in front of the young woman is Griffon. Here in lower part the griffon being reproduced on the blazon of the town of Perugia, in Italy. It dates from the Middle Ages. This legendary animal is equipped with a head, a nozzle and wings of eagle as well as body of a lion. 
At Dorothea Tanning the lion becomes cat. There is no animal symbolizing best the female nature of the cat. The cat is not easily to influence, moreover it can start to hum and the moment according to attack and to leave its claws. This griffon is semi-cat semi-bird and of black colour. In the Western spirit the black has a negative tonality which evokes things where the hope is not there. The black bird or the black cat is never positive symbols. Even if the griffon of Dorothea is less terrible than that of the Middle Ages it evokes things which frighten him probably contained in its instinctive nature than it does not control easily. 

Light : 

The painting is enlightened left.


Harmonize and contrasts.

Contrast between hot and cold colours. Contrast between complementary.

Similar Paintings :

Dorothea Tanning. Voltage. 1942.

Dorothea Tanning. Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.. 1943.

Max Ernst. Antipope. 1941-42.

Dortothea Tanning was the partner of max Ernst. The 2 paintings were painted about at the same time. It’s Difficult to say if a picture answer the other but they are similar on the covered subject. Click to see the analysis.