Fateful meeting: Dorothea Tanning’s romance became a lifelong relationship

She didn’t cause a big scandal Dorothee Tanning not so much with his surrealist paintings with erotic motifs as with his relationship with the famous German surrealist and dadaist Max Ernst. He fell in love with her at the age of fifty while he was a student and managed to cut all ties behind him. It was not the first time with him, but certainly the last time.

In the name of art

Dorothea was born in late August 1910. Although she came from a very conservative and non-artistic family living in the small town of Galesburg, Illinois, it drew her to art much to the delight of his parents as teenagers. After general studies, she landed at Knox College in Chicago, but quickly abandoned it and preferred the school of life.

In the 1930s, she moved to New York. She made a living as an illustrator and slowly began to break into the art industry. He discovers new directions, Dadaism and Surrealism. He saw his future there, and that is why he left in 1939 for the “Mecca of artists” in Paris. There he finds that most of the artists fled abroad before the impending war. She therefore prefers to return to America.

The fateful man

After an eight-year relationship, she was briefly married to a writer in 1941 Homer Shannon. But the decisive event of his life was yet to come. During a party in 1942, he met the German-Jewish painter Max Ernst, a figurehead of European surrealism and Dadaism. He only recently married the wealthy and influential patron of the arts, Peggy Guggenheim, who allowed him to escape from Europe to America at noon.. Peggy was an extremely capable woman and a great businesswoman. She had a very good estimate and was able to buy not only the works of artists who were already known when they had no more money, but also those whose fame was still waiting. In October 1942, she opened a new Art of this Century gallery in Manhattan, New York.

And from January 5 to February 6, 1943, it organized an unusual exhibition of paintings by thirty-one painters of sixteen nationalities. All but one were under thirty. Her husband Max Ernst helped prepare Peggy’s show. Among the exhibitors were, among others, Frida Kahlo and the little-known Dorothea Tanning. Ernst was literally captivated by the now cult self-portrait of Dorothea Birthdayon which the painter stands half-naked.

Although the exhibition was not so commercially successful, which disappointed businesswoman Peggy, it did attract the attention of artistic circles. But most importantly, it significantly affected the future life of the patron. Ernst fell so much in love with Dorothea Tanning that he left a carefree life with a millionaire and preferred love to a young, handsome painter. Dorothea was nineteen years younger and had a reputation for beauty. Ernst was again known for his tumultuous love affairs and several marriages. Peggy was told later that she would not stop swearing as soon as she thought of organizing such an exhibition.

Harmony and Inspiration

The relationship between Ernst and Dorothey was sealed in 1946, and the harmonious marriage lasted thirty years until Ernst’s death. The artists were a source of mutual inspiration. After the war, they often visited Europe and lived in Paris and Provence, but their permanent headquarters became the city of Sedona, Arizona, which they enjoyed from the start of their relationship. They had a number of friends from the art industry who often visited them in France and America.

Besides painting, they also devote themselves to sculpture. Dorothein’s interest in dance, music and the performing arts is reflected in her abstract paintings since the 1950s, as well as the stage and costume designs for several ballets. In the 1960s, a textile and a sewing machine became his favorite equipment. She continues to experiment even after Ernst’s death, as she spends several years in Europe.

Life without Max

But since 1980, she has lived permanently in New York and started writing. She has been writing and publishing poetry and short prose since the 1940s, but without much attention. He is now embarking on an autobiography. In 1986, he published a commemorative book Birthday about an image that was reflected in his later life. The book was a great success.

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When Dorothea celebrated her 100th birthday in 2010, she received a great gift. Several important world galleries have organized his retrospective exhibitions. Although she had long since abandoned surrealism, she had the stamp of the oldest surrealist. She died in January 2012 at the beautiful age of 101…

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