• The Art of the Surreal Evening auction at Christies

    Sale 7903

    The Art of the Surreal Evening Sale

    2 February 2010, London, King Street

  • Lot 114

    Yves Tanguy (1900-1955)

    Sans titre (Répondre)

    Price Realised  


    Yves Tanguy (1900-1955)
    Sans titre (Répondre)
    signed and dated 'YVES TANGUY 38' (lower right)
    oil on canvasboard
    13 5/8 x 10 5/8 in. (34.8 x 27 cm.)
    Painted in 1938

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    'I find it impossible to think of a picture save as a window, and my first concern about a window is to find out what it looks out on... and there is nothing I love so much as something which stretches away from me out of sight' (André Breton, Le Surréalisme et la peinture, 1928).

    Sans titre, painted in 1938, is an enigmatic desert-like void, punctuated by a sparse but magical conglomeration of vertical personage-like stele that spatially inter-relate and establish a depth and compositional harmony to the work as a whole. Seeming like the ruins or monuments of some long lost or totally unknown civilization, these strange amorphous forms populate the seemingly infinite landscape, like the neolithic stones that litter the Breton countryside where Tanguy grew up. In 1938, these unconsciously created forms which Tanguy invented spontaneously and automatically directly on the canvas, had begun to conglomerate into strange clusters. Their bright colours and the immaculate precision with which they are rendered shows them to be new inventions, rather than relics of another age, and in this they exhibit a certain degree of biomorphism which encouraged Alfred Barr to erroneously categorise Tanguy as an 'abstract' artist and a follower of Arp and Miro.

    As Sans titre clearly shows, Tanguy is not an abstract painter, but a creator of mental landscapes that aim to arouse specific emotions in the viewer. In the finest of his works an eerie silence is achieved along with a pervasive sense of time standing still. Intentionally enigmatic, Tanguy's paintings intrigue the mind's eye and seduce us with a mystery that does not divulge its secret. As André Breton, one of Tanguy's greatest admirers, wrote of his work, Tanguy's paintings seem to represent 'the words of a language which we cannot yet hear but which we shall shortly be reading and speaking, and which we shall recognise as being ideally suited to the exchange of new ideas' (André Breton, quoted in Dawn Ades, 'Yves Tanguy's Horizons' in Klee, Tanguy, Miro, exh. cat., Vienna, 2000, p. 176).

    Special Notice

    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 17.5% on the buyer's premium.


    Galerie Robert, Amsterdam (no. 126).
    Erik Oleson, Copenhagen; their sale, Bruun Rasmussen Bredgade, Copenhagen, 29 March 2004, lot 30.
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owners.

    Pre-Lot Text



    P. Matisse, Yves Tanguy, A Summary of his Works, New York, 1963, no. 213 (illustrated p. 107).
    P. Waldberg, Yves Tanguy, Brussels, 1977 (illustrated p. 81).