Lot 40
  • 40

YVES TANGUY | Sans titre

200,000 - 300,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Yves Tanguy
  • Sans titre
  • signed Yves Tanguy and dated 34 (lower right)
  • oil on panel
  • 18.8 by 55cm.
  • 7 3/8 by 21 5/8 in.
  • Painted in 1934.


Galerie André François Petit, Paris Galleria Galatea, Turin

Marcel Piera Hutter, Turin (acquired from the above by 1967)

Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1997


Paris, Galerie André François Petit, Hans Bellmer, Victor Brauner, Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Wifredo Lam, René Magritte, Pierre Roy, Alberto Savinio, Max Walter Svanberg, Yves Tanguy, Toyen, 1965, illustrated in colour in the catalogue Turin, Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna, Le Muse Inquietanti: Maestri del Surrealismo, 1967-68, no. 241, illustrated in the catalogue

Turin, Galleria Galatea, Yves Tanguy, 1971

Catalogue Note

It was in 1923 that Tanguy decided to become an artist; on a bus going down the Rue de la Boétie he saw Giorgio de Chirico’s Le cerveau de l’enfant in the window of a gallery and, struck by its inherent mysteriousness, he made the decision to devote his life to painting. On meeting André Breton two years later, he was invited to join the Surrealists and started to contribute to their publications, beginning to develop his own distinctive Surrealist language. Tanguy received no formal artistic training, but childhood summers spent near Finistère in Brittany, on the western coast of France overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, had a profound influence on the style that he had developed by 1927, the year of his first one-man exhibition at the Galerie Surréaliste in Paris. It was during these stays in Brittany that Tanguy 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 created as a mature painter. In 1930 he also travelled to North Africa where his observations of natural geological structures and stratifications were to prove equally significant for the evolution of his artistic vision. Following a period in the early 1930s when Tanguy produced only a handful of canvases a year, the mid-1930s saw a change in his work that heralded the final development of his mature style. As Karin von Maur explains: ‘One is struck by the polychrome coloration and, once again, by the ambivalence between sea and sky, two dimensionality and depth, but also by the sculpturally projecting relief effect the objects create […]. Tanguy had adopted not only the old-masterly bravura of Dalí but also an ultra-precise realism in the reproduction of his surreal visions’ (K. von Maur, ‘Yves Tanguy or “The Certainty of the Never-Seen”’, in Yves Tanguy and Surrealism (exhibition catalogue), The Menil Collection, Houston, 2001, pp. 77-78). To speak of a precise realism in Tanguy might seem counter-intuitive, but in his painting Tanguy succeeds in creating his own reality and one that is acutely observed. In the present work it is possible to trace in particular the origins of his Breton childhood in the fixed and distant horizon, the organic nature of the figures and the subtle ebb and flow of their distribution across the canvas. These remembered points of reference are transformed through their placement in a purely imaginative context, resulting in a painting that is a powerful exploration of the subconscious.

This work will be included in the forthcoming Yves Tanguy Catalogue Raisonné being prepared by the Tanguy Committee.