“My work is about leaving the door open to the imagination.” -Dorothea Tanning (1910 – 2012)

Sleeping Nude (1954) by Dorothea Tanning. Oil on canvas.

And she did. Countless others have walked through that door behind Dorothea Tanning– fellow iconoclasts and creative powerhouses (many women, but surely, many not) who might never have pursued their work otherwise.

Her independence, her intelligence, and her centenarian resolve to lead an extraordinary life no matter what, should be as central to her legacy as her art and writings. Tanning died in her sleep last night at the age of 101…

“…and pieces of history die with her. Artist, poet, wife of Max Ernst from 1946 until he died in 1976, and (along with Frida Kahlo, Leonora Carrington, Kay Sage, Lee Miller, Maya Deren, Remedios Varo, and Leonor Fini) one of a group of great women Surrealists, she was at the center of a movement that was a vicious mill for women. Among the surrealists, females — while ‘allowed’ to be artists — were often also relegated to the sidelines of neglected or beset mistresses, muses, and madwomen.” ~Jerry Saltz (for New York Magazine)

Birthday (1942) by Dorothea Tanning. Oil on canvas.

Her advice to younger generations: “Keep your eye on your inner world and keep away from ads, idiots and movie stars.”

Eine Kleine_Nachtmusik (1943) by Dorothea Tanning. Oil on canvas.

Dorothea Tanning in her studio, Sedona, AZ, 1946. Photograph by Lee Miller.

Notes for an Apocalypse (1978) by Dorothea Tanning. Oil on canvas.

Interior With Sudden Joy (1951). Oil on canvas.

Tanning & Ernst playing chess in Sedona, mid ’40s.

Dorothea Tanning in 2010 by Sylvia Plachy.

Self Portrait (1944) by Dorothea Tanning. Oil on canvas.

(News via Electra Earl / Dangerous Minds on the Coilhouse Facebook page.)

6 Responses to ““My work is about leaving the door open to the imagination.” -Dorothea Tanning (1910 – 2012)”

  1. Flavorwire » What’s On at Flavorpill: The Links That Made the Rounds in Our Office Says:

    […] zine maker. We traveled to 21 of the most “lesbianish” cities in America. We said goodbye to Dorothea Tanning. We felt the love thanks to this giant Valentine’s Day sculpture in Times […]

  2. Memento Mori: Dorothea Tanning (1910 – 2012) « Die Elektrischen Vorspiele Says:

    […] Coilhouse Gostar disto:GostoBe the first to like this . Arquivos Seleccionar mês Fevereiro 2012 […]

  3. Slackeypants Says:

    Thank you for this! Beautiful. SP

  4. ospectral Says:

    Only recently introduced to Dorothea T’s work. She and Leonor Fini are inspirational wonderwomen to me. Great advice as well. Thank you for sharing. x

  5. Tigerloaf Says:

    A nice tribute to an inspiring figure. More paintings and photos can be seen on my blog, where Tanning has been a recurring feature:


  6. Fazulito Reet Says:

    Greetings & Saludos & Howdy!

    A big bow and tip of my hat to Coilhouse and most of all to DOROTHEA TANNING! There’s a groovy art exhibit presently @ LACMA featuring, among others, the extraordinary Dorothea Tanning… a wide range of items from one of her more famous oil-on-canvas masterworks (Birthday) to an exquisite three-page collage-letter of correspondence from D.T. to Joseph Cornell (“… Joseph, how do you do it?”).

    Take another look at the photographic picture of proto-hippies Dorothea & Max playing chess in Sedona not long after WWII.. Whaddaya think… psyloscibin or peyote??? “Leaving the door open for the imagination” indeed, mightn’t you say?


    Fazulito Reet
    College of Pataphysics
    Los Feliz Chapter to the World