YVES TANGUY (1900-1955)
YVES TANGUY (1900-1955)
YVES TANGUY (1900-1955)
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YVES TANGUY (1900-1955)
4 More
YVES TANGUY (1900-1955)

Sans titre

YVES TANGUY (1900-1955)
Sans titre
signed and dated 'YVES TANGUY 40' (lower right)
watercolor, gouache and pen and black ink on paper
8 x 5 3⁄4 in. (20.3 x 14.5 cm.)
Executed in 1940
Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York (acquired from the artist).
Ona Munson, New York (acquired from the above, 1940).
Eugene Berman, New York (by descent from the above, 1955).
Earl Stendahl Galleries, Los Angeles.
Bodley Gallery, New York.
Acquired from the above by the late owners, April 1959.
P. Matisse, Yves Tanguy: A Summary of His Works, New York, 1963, p. 122, no. 268 (illustrated).
Miami, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sweet Dreams and Nightmares: Dada and Surrealism from the Rosalind and Melvin Jacobs Collection, March-May 2000, no. 28 (illustrated in color).
New York, Pace/MacGill Gallery, The Long Arm of Coincidence: Selections from the Rosalind and Melvin Jacobs Collection, April-May 2009 (illustrated in color).

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Lot Essay

Following a trip to North Africa in 1930, Yves Tanguy entered the final mature phase of his work—which developed slowly and meticulously over the next twenty years. John Ashbery has 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" ("Tanguy: The Geometer of Dreams," Yves Tanguy, exh. cat., Acquavella Galleries, New York, 1974).

Tanguy was among the first wave of leading Surrealists to flee the war in Europe for a new life in New York, emigrating from France in November 1939 and joining his soon-to-be second wife, the American artist Kay Sage. One month after his arrival Tanguy held the first of what would prove to be a series of major exhibitions at the Pierre Matisse Gallery. A month later, he had his first museum exhibition at the Wadsworth Athenaeum in Hartford.

Painted in 1940, Sans titre is an enigmatic desert-like void, punctuated by a magical conglomeration of silent and luminous forms and edifices that spatially inter-relate and establish a depth and compositional harmony to the work as a whole. In true surrealist fashion, the composition seems strange and unbelievable at first but manages to insinuate itself into the viewer's consciousness, taking on an uncanny familiarity, even a kind of humanity, while remaining utterly inexplicable and unfathomable, resolutely defiant to any normal sense of logic or understanding.

By 1940, 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. Thus, they exhibit a certain degree of biomorphism but are not fully abstract. This painting demonstrates that Tanguy is a creator of mental landscapes that aim to arouse specific emotions in the viewer. 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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