Here Tanning paints a disturbing scene that could have been lifted from a child’s nightmare. In a dank hotel corridor, a child stands with a huge, malevolent-seeming sunflower in between her and an open door, the only comforting source of light in the picture. In a letter to Tate, Tanning said that this painting was 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.’
The largest size variation we are able to offer this print in is 60 x 80 cm.
Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
Date of work
Original: Oil paint on canvas 40.7 x 61 cm Tate. Purchased with assistance from the Art Fund and the American Fund for the Tate Gallery 1997 © DACS, 2018
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.