Lot 66
  • 66

Yves Tanguy

500,000 - 700,000 GBP
554,500 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Yves Tanguy
  • Sans titre
  • signed Yves Tanguy (lower right)
  • oil on canvas


Richard Feigen, Chicago (acquired by 1956)

Private Collection, Milan

Acquired from the above by the family of the present owner


Houston, Museum of Contemporary Arts, Out of the Ordinary, 1959, illustrated in the catalogue


Kay Sage et al., Yves Tanguy. Un receuil de ses œuvres, New York, 1963, no. 121, illustrated p. 79
Patrick Waldberg, Yves Tanguy, Brussels, 1977, illustrated p. 123, illustrated in colour p. 152

Catalogue Note

The present work exemplifies the refined and personal language with which Tanguy transformed the boundaries of Modernist painting. Tanguy was invited by André Breton to become a member of the Surrealist group in 1925 and two years later he was a highly accomplished painter in complete command of a new and personal Surrealist idiom. Though Tanguy 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 style that was to emerge by 1927, the year of his first one-man exhibition at the Galerie Surréaliste in Paris. It was during these stays that Tanguy had observed prehistoric rock formations and objects floating on the water or washed up on the shore, elements that, subjectively transformed, frequently appear in the dream world Tanguy celebrated as a mature painter (figs. 1 & 2). Also important was his trip to North Africa in 1930, where he observed natural geological structures and stratifications that were to appear in his paintings.

James Thrall Soby wrote of the particular splendour of the artist's works from this period: 'After his African voyage, Tanguy usually substituted mineral forms for the vegetal ones used in earlier works. His color became more complex and varied, with extremes of light and dark replacing the relatively even tonality of his previous pictures. At the same time he made more and more frequent use of one of his most poetic inventions - the melting of land into sky, one image metamorphosed into another, as in the moving-picture technique known as lap-dissolve. The fixed horizon was now often replaced by a continuous and flowing treatment of space, and in many paintings of the 1930s and 1940s, it is extremely difficult to determine at what point earth becomes sky or whether objects rest on the ground or float aloft. The ambiguity is intensified by changes in the density of the objects themselves, from opaque to translucent to transparent, creating a spatial double entendre' (J. T. Soby in Yves Tanguy (exhibition catalogue), The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1955, pp. 17-18).

Tanguy's pictorial forms are unique in the canon of Surrealist art, amorphous yet somehow recognisable to the viewer. 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' (P. Matisse in Kay Sage et al., op. cit., p. 16). The objects which inhabit the ambiguous space of Sans titre indeed seem reliant upon objective reality and yet far removed from any specific reference. With a refined sense of mystery, Tanguy presents in the current work a brilliant hyper-reality that embodies the aims of the Surrealist movement.