The present intention of the Yves Tanguy Committee is to include this work in the revised edition of the catalogue raisonné of his paintings and gouaches.
Dangers des courants is an exquisite subaquatic mindscape by Yves Tanguy painted in 1938. Mysterious pebbles are scattered across the soft expanse, which recalls the sandy bed of the sea or a desert. Forms resembling jellyfish in their spectral, bubble-like shapes emerge among these other objects, as well as twig-like assemblages that appear sculptural. Tanguy has created a rich interplay of texture and colour with the amorphous elements in this picture, revealing the automatism that he so valued as well as the intense lyricism of his Surreal vision and the meticulous craftsmanship that such jewel-like detailing involved.
The title, Dangers des courants, appears to hint at the maritime theme that is invoked by these jostling forms. Tanguy himself had spent two years in the Merchant Navy and related strongly to the sea. His pictures often had a marine quality, with the soft light, off-set by the crisp shadows, and the distorted sense of distance. This impression of the sea-bed was more marked before his move to the United States of America, when rocks and the desert became more of an inspiration. In Dangers des courants, the range of components are visions of some impossible aquatic realm: these forms appear as creatures, a mysterious bestiary. They teeter on the brink of recognition, alien yet somehow knowable, be it in the arm-like strands of the right-hand stick-creation or the more globular forms elsewhere.
Dangers des courants relates to three other pictures of the same title and format, all of which were shown in one of Tanguy's early one-man exhibitions, held at Guggenheim Jeune in London in the same year that the picture was painted. Peggy Guggenheim became romantically involved with Tanguy around this time; in addition, it seems that Kay Sage, whom he would later marry, entered his orbit then, acquiring one of his pictures, perhaps from that show. On that occasion, a catalogue had been published with a foreword by André Breton, which he had written for a Paris show that had taken place earlier that year, which he ended with the words: 'Yves Tanguy, the painter of fearful aerial, subterranean and maritime elegance, the man in whom I see the moral adornment of our time: my charming friend' (A. Breton, Surrealism and Painting, London, 1965, p. 175).