Globe de Glace is an exquisite painting of a cipher-like procession of anthropomorphic forms in the midst of an infinite misty landscape which Tanguy painted in 1934 and dedicated to his friend and fellow Surrealist, Man Ray.
Following a short trip to North Africa in 1930, where he had been fascinated by the rock formations he saw there, Tanguy executed a short-lived series of works in which the enigmatic and seemingly soft biomorphic forms of his earlier paintings were transformed into more solid rock-like structures.
Globe de Glace belongs to the next series of paintings that Tanguy embarked on in the mid-1930s where the magical enigmatic forms of his paintings became grouped into sculptural constructions and processional lines as if they were hieroglyphic symbols from some mysterious new language of space and colour. They are, as André Breton once described them, "the words of a language which we cannot yet hear but which we shall shortly be reading and speaking, and which we shall recognise as being ideally suited to the exchange of new ideas." (André Breton, cited in exhib.cat. Klee, Tanguy, Miro, Museum moderner Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna, 2000, p. 176.)
Tanguy devised these forms spontaneously while working on the painting. Unlike most artists he almost never planned his paintings or prepared their design with drawings because, as he observed, "I found that if I planned a picture before hand, it never surprised me, and surprises are what pleases me most in painting." (cited in Exh. cat., Yves Tanguy, MoMa , New York 1955, p. 17.) Painting directly onto the empty canvas, Tanguy's aesthetic was one of precise and painstaking automatism which, he found to his delight, always led to a satisfactory and surprising conclusion with one form always suggesting a second and then a third and so on. "I expect nothing from my thinking mind," Tanguy once observed, "but I am sure of my instincts." (cited in Exh. cat., Yves Tanguy, MoMa , New York 1955, p. 19.)
In Globe de Glace as in many of his paintings of the mid-1930s Tanguy seems to have formulated this process of working into a linear progression of form that in this work, leads the eye towards and then across an imaginary horizon-line of a mysterious and infinite cloud-like space.