Yves Tanguy

Born 1900. Died 1955.
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Yves Tanguy Biography

An oeuvre of remarkable unity yet endless imagination, French surrealist Yves Tanguy's paintings are meticulous renderings of fantastical wastelands, sparsely populated by plasmic, alien forms that are as seemingly tangible as they are illusory.

Yves Tanguy was born in Paris on January 5, 1900. His father, a retired navy captain, died eight years later; subsequently, Tanguy and his mother moved to Locronan, Finistère, where her family resided. From ages 18 to 22 Tanguy served a stint in the military. His artistic career began after his service ended, when he found himself working odd jobs in Paris. There, he happened upon a painting by artist Georgio DiChirico in a gallery window and was so overwhelmed that he resolved to become a painter himself. Without any further training, he began painting in oils. Soon, he befriended a number of painters and poets in the Surrealist group, including André Breton, who helped arrange his first shows. By the late 1920s, Tanguy's unmistakable style had congealed; his 1927 painting Mama, Papa is Wounded!, which takes its title from a psychiatric case study of a traumatized soldier, is an exemplar with its flat, distant horizon, blank sky and scattering of unearthly outcroppings and growths. While these vistas are mainly psychogenic, some critics note the influence of the ancient megaliths of Tanguy's childhood home of Brittany, as well as the curious geological features of Tunisia, which he saw during his military service. His later paintings were inspired by the natural and built environment of the United States, where he and his second wife and fellow Surrealist painter Kay Sage took exile during the Second World War. Tanguy died in Connecticut on January 15, 1955.

Yves Tanguy's works are represented in the permanent collections of numerous major public institutions, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Musée des beaux arts de Rennes and the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.

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