Archive for January 2, 2013

Artist of the moment….Surrealist master Dorothea Tanning….

Dorothea Tanning is well known for her Surrealist paintings and for the fact she lived to be nearly 102 years old!  I hope you read my previous posts about artists who broke the one hundred year barrier. Tanning was born in 1910 in Galesburg, Illinois. She went on to a successful career as a highly versatile artist. She not only painted and sculpted but also designed theater sets and costumes.

For her collegiate studies Tanning attended Knox University which is located in the artist’s hometown of Galesburg, Illinois. Tanning also studied at the Chicago Institute of Art.

Below is a brief montage of the Dorothea Tanning’s paintings.

Price range information : Tanning worked in many mediums over her very long life.  Collage works can be found for around $1o,000. Etchings and lithographs can be found from one hundred to $10,000. Oil prices range from $1,000 to $355,000. Works in watercolor can be found for less than $10,000. Tanning also made works using crayon, sculpture, and paper mache ,but not enough for consistent pricing schedule.

After her studies in Chicago the artist moved to New York in the mid 1930s. She became aware of the DADA and Surrealism movements. In the following decade Tanning started to produce her own Surrealistic works and also support with her commercial artwork.

Some of the management of the Macy corporation who liked Tanning’s fashion illustrations introduced the artist to gallery owner Julien Levy. Levy gave Tanning her first solo exhibition in 1944. Levy also introduced Tanning to the other artists who showed at his gallery. One such artist was the German painter Max Ernst. Tanning and Ernst met, fell in love, and got married. Below is a great photograph of the couple that recalls images of Steiglitz and O’Keefe.


Below is an example of Max Ernst and his Surrealistic style.


Tanning and Ernst lived mainly in Paris and Provence in France from 1949 until Ernsts death.

Tanning lived to be more than one hundred years old so her style changed from realistic to abstract and she also dabbled with the idea of soft sculpture and working with fabric or cloth rather than a harder material such as clay. Tanning’s husband Max Ernst passed away in 1976 ending 34 years of marriage.

In the 1990s and 2000s the artist focused on writing. Tanning published poetry and even a short novel titled “Chasm: ”

Tanning passed away at her home on January 31st of 2012 at the age of 101 years old!

Tanning reminds me of the British Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington. Carrington passed away in 2011 and was among the best painters of the Surrealist style. Below is an example of Carrington’s style.


Its great fun to study some artists that have lived to be a centenarian. Being that old means you have lived through many phases of the art world! Some other artist’s breaking the one hundred year barrier are Martha Walter, Grandma Moses, and Theresa Bernstein.


How will you be painting when you turn 100 years old?