The forgotten Surrealist

The forgotten Surrealist

Most people have not heard about Yves Tanguy as a contributor to Surrealism because the main focus has been primarily on Salvador Dalí and Rene Magritte. Despite this fact, Tanguy has been a crucial part of this movement. Personally, I hadn't heard about him either until a few months ago when I went to the Vancouver Art Gallery, and at first, I thought it was a painting by Salvador Dalí, then I saw it was made by Yves Tanguy so I started wondering about him and his work, so I did some research that I will share with you today. But before that, I do have to say that Yves Tanguy’s work made me wonder why art institutions are promoting just a few artists? Ironically, they promote artists whose paintings they own. Why not promote other important artists as well even if you don't have their work? Why are the museums only promoting selected paintings and artists? Perhaps it is that only certain paintings turn out to be economically beneficial for them? I would like to know what you think about it, leave a comment below. 

About Yves Tanguy

Yves Tanguy is a French painter, who in his early life, he had to deal with two important deaths, his father's and his brother who was killed in the First World War. As a teenager, despite these deaths and his mother moving to another city, he stayed in Paris to finish his studies. Afterward, he started working as a merchant marine, on cargo boats between South America and Africa. In 1920 he joined the French Army in Tunis and came back to Paris two years after, where he started working and sketching in his free time.

A year after, in 1923 he came across a Giorgio De Chirico's painting titled Le Cerveau de L'enfant (image on the left). Tanguy was mesmerized by it in such a way that shortly after he became a painter. Moreover, in 1924 he met André Breton founder of the Surrealist Movement and he immediately became part of it, contributing to exhibitions, magazines, and manifestos. 

In 1927, Tanguy had his first Solo Exhibition at the Galerie Surréaliste in Paris, in which his style was praised as he was seen as the "ultimate Surrealist expression."  Furthermore, by the mid 1930¬'s he was pretty well known as a result, he started having international exhibitions in places such as Belgium, England, New York, Tenerife, and Paris. In 1939, with the beginning of Second World War, Tanguy decided to go live in the United States, specifically in Woodbury, Connecticut; with Kate Sage which a year later would become his wife.    

Yves Artwork 

When it comes to doing art Tanguy has no interest in exchanging opinions with other artists, ideology or technical methods. Instead, he likes to work alone in very irregularly hours and by "crises". Also, he likes to work only on one painting at a time and no more than one medium. He would never work on regular hours for he says that anything resembling duty is the negation of all fantasy in creative work. How long he takes on a painting does not depend on the size; it depends merely on how much inspiration he has at the moment. Moreover, he does not seek the reason for his paintings, as that would cause him a self- imprisonment.

Yves Tanguy contribution to Surrealism

Yves Tanguy is mentioned as the first Surrealist artist who started painting abstracted landscapes, which later on were adopted by Salvador Dalí, whose paintings have created a greater impact on the general public. Nevertheless, "Tanguy's work proved more influential on the young painters who came to Surrealism on the eve of World War II, such as Wolfgang Paalen, Roberto Matta, the Englishman Gordon Max Onslow-Ford and the Spaniard Esteban Francés."

After extensive research, I have concluded that Yves Tanguy remained a pure Surrealist, he wasn't interested in fame or doing art that would be easy to sell as some artists started doing. Also, I think Yves Tanguy has not taken enough credit by the art institutions for his important contributions to the art world. Furthermore, Dalí’s style was inspired by Yves Tanguy based on what I read in What Is Surrealism? written by Breton, as he praises Tanguy in essays written in the early 1940s for being the first Surrealist painter to have developed what has been later called by Robert Matta psychological morphology. The word psychological morphology gives form to our unbridled thoughts, it could be described as a Hell – Paradise where all is possible. In fact, Dalí would not be what he is today as he was inspired by Tanguy's infinite perspective.

If you are interested to learn more about Yves Tanguy or Surrealism, in general, I recommend reading the following books:

*Art Since 1900  by Hal Foster

*The Story Of Art by Ernest Gombrich

*Drawing Surrealism by Jones

*The Real World of the Surrealists by Haslam

*What Is Surrealism? by André Breton

*Surrealists on Art  by Lippard   

I hope you have enjoyed this post, before leaving I have to say that to succeed in the art world is not easy, there are many factors that contribute to becoming a famous artist. Which unknown artist do you like/admire? Leave a comment below and we can do a post about him/her.  

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