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Yves Tanguy (1900-1955)
The James and Marilynn Alsdorf Collection
Yves Tanguy (1900-1955)

Sans titre

Yves Tanguy (1900-1955)
Sans titre
signed and dated 'YVES TANGUY 27' (lower right)
oil on canvas
45 ¾ x 31 7/8 in. (116.3 x 81 cm.)
Painted in 1927
(Probably) Galerie Surréaliste, Paris.
Vicomte and Vicomtesse Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles, Fontainebleau (probably acquired from the above, 1928).
André-François Petit, Paris (acquired from the above, circa 1974); sale, Sotheby's, London, 24 June 1997, lot 40.
Daniel Filipacchi, Paris (by 1999).
David Tunkl Fine Art, Los Angeles.
Acquired from the above by the late owner, 15 December 2005.
P. Waldberg, Surrealism, Geneva, 1962, p. 76 (illustrated in color).
P. Waldberg, The Initiators of Surrealism, Paris, 1969 (illustrated in color, pl. 26).
D. Marchesseau, Yves Tanguy, Paris, 1973, p. 13 (illustrated in color).
J.-C. Bailly, "Yves Tanguy, le silence" in XXe siècle, Le Surréalisme II, Paris, 1974, no. 43, p. 107 (illustrated in color).
G. Picon, Journal du surréalisme, 1919-1939, Geneva, 1976, p. 108, no. 2 (ilustrated in color).
P. Waldberg, Les demeures d'Hypnos, Paris, 1976, p. 253 (illustrated).
P. Waldberg, Tanguy, Paris, 1984, p. 42 (illustrated in color).
R. Le Bihan, R. Mabin and M. Sawin, Yves Tanguy, Paris, 2001, p. 44 (illustrated in color, pl. 23).
D. Tanyol, Georges MalkinePerfect Surrealist Behavior, New York, 2014, p. 24, no. 53 (illustrated).
Knokke-Le Zoute, Casino Communal, Trésors du surréalisme, June-September 1968, p. 89, no. 128 (illustrated, p. 128).
New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Surrealism: Two Private Eyes, The Nesuhi Ertegun and Daniel Filipacchni Collections, June-September 1999, p. 296, no. 225 (illustrated in color, p. 297).
Paris, Malingue, Yves Tanguy, May-July 2002, p. 22 (illustrated in color).

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Max Carter
Max Carter

Lot Essay

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.
“The painting grows before my eyes revealing its surprises as it comes together. That’s what gives me a sense of total freedom, and for that reason I am incapable of conceiving a plan or of doing a preliminary sketch”
Yves Tanguy
Once in the legendary collection of the famed Surrealist patrons, Vicomte and Vicomtesse Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles, Sans titre is among the earliest of Yves Tanguy’s great series of mysterious, dream landscapes. Painted in 1927, a landmark year in the artist’s life during which he established himself as one of Paris’s leading Surrealists, this immense, otherworldly panorama marks Tanguy's arrival at the mature style to which he would remain faithful for the rest of his life. Here, Tanguy immerses the viewer into a blue-hued, hallucinatory vision that he conjured from the depths of his subconscious. Bathed in a strange, enigmatic light, a host of unidentifiable, amorphous and biomorphic forms populate this seeming subaqueous or nocturnal scene, each rendered with the exquisite and precise hyperrealist detail that would come to define the artist’s work. Leaving behind all traces of naturalistic figuration, Tanguy, like his fellow Surrealists, André Masson, Joan Miró and Max Ernst, worked according to a process of instinctive automatism, with each form generated according to a sequence of spontaneous painterly impulses that the artist followed until he felt the composition was complete.
Picturing a rippling expanse that stretches towards a strange, totemic monument which appears to stand sentinel on the horizon line, Sans titre conjures a vision of a fantastical underwater world. Amidst an enigmatic blue realm, the strange phantasmagoric figures and forms are lit by an unseen source that causes strong, silhouetted shadows to fall over the ground. These are accompanied in places by what appear to be flags blowing in an impossible breeze in this seeming citadel under the sea. In developing his mysterious mental landscapes, Tanguy was profoundly influenced by the marine landscape of the Brittany coast of his childhood, as well as by the primordial mystery of the many Neolithic stones that extend along the region's vast and rugged horizons. Later, he would become a sailor in the Merchant Navy, spending weeks at sea as he voyaged round the world. When Tanguy turned to painting, it therefore came as no surprise that such evocative aqueous imagery would play a significant role in both his pictorial imagination and in the development of his early Surrealist works. Indeed, in addition to the misty blue watery realm that works such as Sans titre depict, these large, panoramic landscapes also display, as Marcel Jean once poetically described, the same “penetrating loneliness” as that experienced by sailors alone on a seemingly infinite expanse of water (The History of Surrealist Painting, London, 1959, p. 198). “The strange world known to him alone”, Patrick Waldberg would later write of Tanguy’s Surrealist landscapes, “whose secrets he elicited and revealed in the course of thirty years of ardent exploration, belongs to the domain of traveler’s tales, those imaginary ocean voyages in which the helmsman of a ship of dreams watches for the faint, faraway signals that will orient him to long-lost lands” (P. Waldberg, Surrealism, Geneva, 1962, pp. 77-78). The sea, its boundless depths and the secret, unknowable worlds it houses, served as a natural metaphor for the Surrealists’ greatest interest: the unfathomable realm of the unconscious mind. In evoking this concept in his work, Tanguy became one of the greatest exponents of Surrealism in the late 1920s.

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