Lot 357
  • 357

Yves Tanguy

500,000 - 700,000 USD
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Yves Tanguy
  • Titre inconnu (noyer indiffĂ©rent)
  • Signed Yves Tanguy and dated 29 (lower right)
  • Oil on canvas
  • 36 1/4 by 28 3/4 in.
  • 91.1 by 73.2 cm


Kunsthaus, Zurich (acquired from the artist) 
Professor Carl Gustav Jung, Zurich (acquired from the above in 1929)
Private Collection, Switzerland (by descent from the above and sold: Christie's, London, February 6, 2001, lot 58)
Acquired at the above sale


Zurich, Kunsthaus, Ausstellung Abstrakte und Surrealistische Malerei und Plastik, Kunsthaus Zürich, 1929, no. 136
Baden-Baden, Staatliche Kunsthalle, Yves Tanguy Retrospektive 1925 - 1955, 1982-83, no. 34, illustrated in the catalogue
Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Yves Tanguy und der Surrealismus, 2000, no. 31, illustrated in the catalogue
Munich, Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Das ewige Auge: Von Rembrandt bis Picasso. Meisterwerke der Sammlung Jan Krugier und Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 2007 (not included in the catalogue)


Pierre Matisse, Yves Tanguy, Un Recueil de ses oeuvres, Paris, 1963, no. 90, illustrated p. 68
Patrick Waldberg, Yves Tanguy, Brussels, 1977, illustrated p. 78
Carl Gustav Jung, Zivilisation im Übergang, Freiberg, 1986, no. 4, illustrated n.p.
René le Bihan, Renée Mabin & Martica Sawin, Yves Tanguy, Quimper, 2001, illustrated in color pp. 58-59 
Yves Tanguy. L'Univers surréaliste (exhibition catalogue), Musée des Beaux-Arts, Quimper & Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona, 2007, p. 114
Tjeu van den Berk, Jung on Art: The Autonomy of the Creative Drive, New York & London, 2012, illustrated in color on the cover page


The work is in very good condition. The canvas has not been lined. The surface is nicely textured with the artist's original technique of incising. There are faint lines of stable cracking toward the upper right quadrant of the composition, including two areas of circular craquelure (approx 4 in. in diameter). Under UV light: no inpainting is apparent.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Yves Tanguy painted with a distinct style of nonrepresentational Surrealism and depicted uniquely amorphous pictorial forms. He is further known for employing a narrow color spectrum in his images, and the present work clearly exemplifies this technique in its mesmerizing midnight tones.

Tanguy’s career was established when he fortuitously stumbled upon the work of Giorgio de Chirico through a gallery window in 1922. This chance encounter made such an impact on the younger artist that he became resolutely determine to learn to paint. In 1925 André Breton invited him to join the Surrealist group, and just two years later Tanguy was a highly accomplished painter in complete command of a new and deeply personal Surrealist idiom. In the words of James Thrall Soby, "Once he found his direction—and he found it with a startling abruptness—he followed it with devotion and purity, secret in his quest and oblivious of the pressures of fashion and commerce" (quoted in Yves Tanguy (exhibition catalogue), Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1955, p. 9).

The psychiatric theories of Carl Jung, the preeminent Swiss psychiatrist who founded analytical psychology, were a major influence on Tanguy and his artistic practice, which makes it all the more remarkable that Jung purchased this painting in 1929 from the Kunsthaus show where it was first exhibited. Referring to Titre inconnu, Jung said: “He [Tanguy] has undoubtedly succeeded in expressing the bleakness, coldness, lifelessness, the cosmic ‘inhumanness’ and infinite desolation of the horizontal, despite the association ‘city.’ He thus confirms the tendency of this kind of modern art to make the object unrecognisable and to cut off the sympathy and understanding of the beholder, who, rebuffed and confused, feels thrown back on himself” (quoted in Tjeu van den Berk, Jung on Art: The Autonomy of the Creative Drive, New York & London, 2012, p. 23). Indeed, the artist's process and output greatly inspired the development of Jungian concepts such as the unconscious mind and the prospective functions of dreams. The provenance of this work underscores the mutual appreciation and dialogue between the two figures, as further elaborated in Tjeu van den Berk 's monograph on Carl Jung where the present painting, Titre inconnu, is illustrated on the cover.

Pierre Matisse, the artist's dealer in New York, commented in 1942: "Until Tanguy, the object, whatever external shocks it had undergone, remained in the last analysis a distinct prisoner of its own identity. With Tanguy we enter for the first time a world of total latency" (quoted in Pierre Matisse, ed., Yves Tanguy. A summary of his works, New York, 1963, p. 16).