Lot 120
  • 120

Yves Tanguy

100,000 - 150,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Yves Tanguy
  • Sans titre
  • Signed Yves Tanguy, dated 1936 and inscribed A Jeanne et à James Ducellier leurs am[i]s (lower right)
  • Gouache on paper laid down on card
  • 9 3/8 by 6 3/8 in.
  • 23.8 by 16.1 cm


Jeanne & James Ducellier, Carcassone (acquired directly from the artist)
Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above on March 29, 1963


New York, Pierre Matisse Gallery, Exhibition of Gouaches and Drawings by Yves Tanguy, 1963, no. 33a


Pierre Matisse, Yves Tanguy, A Summary of his Works, New York, 1963, no. 189, illustrated p. 100

Catalogue Note

Tanguy's career as a painter began in 1922 shortly after the artist saw an early Surrealist work by Giorgio de Chirico at Paul Guillaume's gallery. The impact of de Chirico's metaphysical landscapes was so great that Tanguy joined the Surrealist group in 1925, collaborating with André Breton in La Révolution Surréaliste. By 1927, he began painting the visionary and imaginative landscapes that established him as a major figure of the movement. Although he received no formal artistic training, his childhood summers spent near Finistère in Brittany, on the western coast of France overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, were to have a profound influence on his distinct style that emerged in 1927. It was during these stays that Tanguy had observed prehistoric rock formations and objects floating on water or washed ashore; these elements, subjectively transformed, feature prominently in the celebrated dreamscapes of his mature oeuvre.

In the present work, Tanguy’s barren ‘mind-scape’ stretches limitlessly towards a hazy horizon. The scattered forms and their clinging shadows stimulate a sense of disorienting vertigo as they retreat into the depths of the painting, bringing with them any remaining sense of earthly orientation and gravity. The haunting imagery of Tanguy's pictures derives from his experience growing up in Europe during the aftermath of World War I. Dilapidated buildings and piles of rubble were common sites throughout northern France, as was the bleak terrain of abandoned battlefields. These spectacles had a profound effect on Surrealist imagery, particularly for Tanguy, whose landscapes captured "the sense of the empty, abandoned, ghostly wasteland of the war-torn terrain" (Sidra Stich, Anxious Visions, Surrealist Art (exhibition catalogue), University Art Museum, University of California at Berkeley, 1990, p. 87).

Tanguy’s intriguing forms are at once amorphous and tangible, mysterious and precise. The present work exemplifies the artist’s ability to make unrecognizable forms resonate with the viewer’s subconscious. These enigmatic elements are distinctly Tanguy’s own creation, yet there is something strangely familiar about them, imbued as they are with an undeniable universality.