Boston University Art Galleries

Boston University

Boston, MA



Dorothea Tanning: Still in the Studio


Dorothea Tanning: Still in the Studio opens at the Boston University Art Gallery on Friday, March 5 and continues through Sunday, April 11, 1999. The exhibition celebrates Tanning's latest suite of paintings, Another Language of Flowers, begun when she was 87 and completed within the course of a single year. The twelve flowers depicted in these works grow only in her fertile imagination. Each is paired with a poem especially composed for the paintings by noted contemporary poets. The poems and paintings also appear in a recent book of the same name.

The exhibition also includes a selection of fourteen paintings chosen from the large body of work Tanning produced over the past 20 years. Beginning with Still in the Studio, (left: 1979, oil on canvas) painted in Paris in 1978, this work represents one of the most vital and active periods in her long career. "Much as words in a poem simultaneously clarify and diffuse meaning, Tanning's imagery, particularly in these late works, slips with great agility between specificity and illusion," comments John Stomberg, director of the Boston University Art Gallery.

Tanning was born in Galesburg, Illinois in 1910 and attended Knox College before moving to New York in the 1940s. There she began exhibiting at the Julien Levy Gallery, becoming known for her very personal and powerful surrealist paintings. In New York she met and married Max Ernst, moving with him to Arizona in the mid-'40s, and then to France in the mid-'50s. Two decades later, after Ernst's death, Tanning returned to New York where she embarked upon a new and ambitious series of paintings, increasing both the scale and the scope of her work.

From left to right: Merrillium trovatum, 1997, oil on canvas, 56 x 66 inches; Crepuscula glacialia (Var. Flos cuculi), 1997, oil on canvas, 39 x 51 inches; Notes for an Apocalypse, 1978, oil on canvas; Evivia, 1987, oil on canvas, 51 3/16 38 3/16 inches

In addition to her activities as a painter, printmaker, and sculptor, Tanning has designed sets and costumes for ballet and theater in New York, London and Paris. Her work is included in collections at the Tate Gallery, London; the Georges Pompidou Center, Paris; the Menil Collection, Houston; and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 9/20/10

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