Private Collection, Milan
Acquired from the above by the family of the present owner
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.
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