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Yves Tanguy (1900-1955) <BR>Titre inconnu <BR>
Yves Tanguy (1900-1955)
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Yves Tanguy (1900-1955)

Titre inconnu

Yves Tanguy (1900-1955)
Titre inconnu
signed and dated 'YVES TANGUY 37' (lower right)
oil on canvasboard
13¾ x 10 5/8 in. (34.9 x 27 cm.)
Painted in 1937
Ferdinand Alquié, Paris (by 1963).
P. Matisse, Yves Tanguy, Un Recueil de ses oeuvres, New York, 1963, p. 104, no. 206 (illustrated).
Paris, Galerie André-François Petit, June 1962.

Lot Essay

Painted in 1937, Titre inconnu is an enigmatic desert-like void, punctuated by a magical conglomeration of silent and luminous 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 entities populate the infinite landscape, like the Neolithic stones that litter the Breton countryside where Tanguy grew up.

Following a trip to North Africa in 1930, Tanguy entered the final mature phase of his work which was to develop slowly and meticulously over the next twenty years. John Ashbery observed, "What had been sketched and 'in the air' in the days of Dada and the early period of Surrealism began to assume, for Tanguy at any rate, the full contours, the rich mineral colors, the strong light and cast shadows, the space that while still ambiguous is now emphatically so, as though the landscape were a real one in which the laws of perspective had been suspended. Objects of a type never encountered yet obviously real are strung out on an infinite plain. They have the brightness of pebbles viewed under water. They communicate with each other, exist in relation to one another, sometimes are even attached to one another by thread or other bonds, and their relationships are strangely explicit though the protagonists themselves are of an unknown species" (in "Tanguy--The Geometer of Dreams," Yves Tanguy, exh. cat., Acquavella Galleries, New York, 1974, n.p.).

By 1937, these spontaneously created forms had begun to group into complex clusters. Their bright colors 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, Jr. to erroneously categorize Tanguy as an "abstract" artist and a follower of Jean Arp and Joan Miró.

As Titre inconnu 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 calm exaltation. 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 recognize as being ideally suited to the exchange of new ideas" (quoted in D. Ades, "Yves Tanguy's Horizons," Klee, Tanguy, Miró, exh. cat., Museum Moderner Kunst, Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna, 2000, p. 176).

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