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Artitsts’ Birthdays: January the 5th – Yves Tanguy (1900)

January 5, 2012
Would you like to know it all? We would! That’s why the theme for our Know It All Section for 2012 is Artists’ Birthdays. We hope that these posts will help to increase our and your knowledge in Art History. Lets get acquainted with more painters, lets recognise their artwork and be inspired by the masterpieces!

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Yves Tanguy (1900 – 1955)

Raymond Georges Yves Tanguy (January 5, 1900 – January 15, 1955), known as Yves Tanguy, was a French surrealist painter.

I must admit, when I first saw his photograph I didn’t know what to make of it – he seems to me like a guy with a good sense of humour, yet I imagine that someone from the beginning of 1900’s would be more serious, constrained and down to earth than us now. Then seeing his paintings made everything clear – he’s a genius with an interesting attitude – not many artists decide to specialize in strange osseous and vegetal formations placed in a barren, lunar-like landscape or an eerie underwater setting.

Born in Paris to Breton parents, Yves Tanguy spent his childhood vacations in Finistère, an area of Brittany that contained many prehistoric menhirs (menhir (French, from Middle Breton: men, stone + hir, long) is a large upright standing stone) and dolmens. His memories of this terrain may have gone into the fashioning of his fantastic landscapes.

In 1918 he shipped out on cargo boats to Africa and South America. Drafted into the French army in 1920, he served in Tunis. After 1922 he was closely associated in Paris with the surrealist writers Jacques Prévert and Marcel Duhamel. And only by chance, stumbbling upon a painting by the “metaphysical” Italian artist Giorgio de Chirico,Tanguy was so deeply impressed that he resolved to become a painter himself in spite of his complete lack of formal training!

In 1924, through his friend Jacques Prévert, Tanguy was introduced into the circle of surrealist artists around André Breton. Tanguy quickly began to develop his own unique painting style, giving his first solo exhibition in Paris in 1927, and marrying his first wife later that same year. During this busy time of his life, André Breton gave Tanguy a contract to paint 12 pieces a year. With his fixed income, he painted less and only ended up creating eight works of art for Breton.

Throughout the 1930s, Tanguy adopted the bohemian lifestyle of the struggling artist with gusto, leading eventually to the failure of his first marriage. In 1938, after seeing the work of fellow artist Kay Sage, Tanguy began a relationship with her that would eventually lead to his second marriage. (With the outbreak of World War II, Sage moved back to her native New York, and Tanguy, judged unfit for military service, followed her. He would spend the rest of his life in the United States and in 1948 becoming a naturalized citizen of the USA.)

In January 1955, Tanguy suffered a fatal stroke. His body was cremated and his ashes preserved until Sage’s death in 1963. Later, his ashes were scattered by his friend Pierre Matisse on the beach at Douarnenez in his beloved Brittany, together with those of his wife.

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Tanguy had a habit of being completely absorbed by the current painting he was working on. This way of creating artwork may have been due to his very small studio which only had enough room for one wet piece.

His paintings have a unique, immediately recognizable style of nonrepresentational surrealism. They show vast, abstract landscapes, mostly in a tightly limited palette of colors, only occasionally showing flashes of contrasting color accents. Typically, these alien landscapes are populated with various abstract shapes, sometimes angular and sharp as shards of glass, sometimes with an intriguingly organic look to them, like giant amoebae suddenly turned to stone.

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Cities where you can see some of Tanguy’s paintings: Baltimore, Barselona, Basel, Berlin, Buffalo, Canberra, Chicago, Duseldorf, Edinburgh, Essen, Grenoble, Hanover, Hartford, Houston, Kansas City, Koln, Lisbon, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Manchester, Minneapolis, New York, Paris, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Sarasota, Tampere, Toledo, Toronto, Venice, Washington.

Information about Yves Tanguy found on Wikipedia and BookRags.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 5, 2012 6:29 pm

    I had heard of Tanguy but didn’t know much about him, interesting post looking forward to more artists Birthdays.

  2. January 8, 2012 6:55 pm

    Interesting post,when i saw these paintings it remainds me a bit of Salvador Dali. Thank you for writing about Tanguy

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