Tanning here paints a scene of formally dressed, doll-like girls tearing at the wallpaper of a corridor, exposing flames beyond. These flames seem to have anatomical features, and one of the girls has her hair sucked into the fire. In an interview on the work for a 1974 retrospective of her work at the Centre National D'Art Contemporain, Paris, Tanning said ‘I read somewhere that what I believed to be poetic and sublime testimonials of my conviction that life is a desperate confrontation with unknown forces are in reality cute girlish dreams, flaring with sexual symbols’.
The largest size variation we are able to offer this print in is 45 x 60 cm.
Date of work
Oil paint on canvas 28 x 18 cm Private Collection © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2019
Dorothea Tanning (1910 – 2012) was an American artist, writer and poet. Aside from three weeks of tuition at the Chicago Academy of Fine Art in 1930, she was entirely self-taught. Although often described as a Surrealist artist, after the 1940s Tanning moved away from surrealist themes and evolved her own personal style. She lived with her fellow artist and husband, Max Ernst, in France from 1949 until Ernst’s death in 1976. In 1980, she moved to New York, and after a decade of studio art there, turned to writing and poetry in the 1990s, which she continued until her death at the age of 101.