The evolution of form and content in the work of the major Surrealist artists was often rapid and protean, with significant developments occuring throughout their careers. The work of Yves Tanguy is a notable exception. He was the only self-taught artist among those who used illusion in their Surrealist paintings. His earliest paintings are primitivistic, but by 1927, he arrived at the vision and technique which would carry him through the next three decades. Strange biomorphic shapes inhabit a desert wasteland, an ocean floor or a landscape out of prehistory.
The poetry of Tanguy's mature imagery differs form that of the other illusionist Surrealists, and even from that of most of the "abstract" painters in the group; it is less specifically literary. Though on occasion his forms are anthropomorphic... they are never particularized with features or anatomical details. Nor can his forms ever be indentified as recognizable objects, as can the shapes of Miró and Masson, to say nothing of those of Magritte and Dalí. If Tanguy's style is realistic, his visual poetry is abstract. (W.S. Rubin, Dada, Surrealism and their Heritage, New York, 1968, p. 102)