fbpx Biennale Arte 2022 | Dorothea Tanning
La Biennale di Venezia

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Dorothea Tanning

1910 – 2012, USA

  • TUE - SUN
    23/04 > 25/09
    11 AM - 7 PM

    27/09 > 27/11
    10 AM - 6 PM
  • Central Pavilion
  • Admission with ticket

Painter, sculptor, and writer Dorothea Tanning was first drawn to Surrealism after visiting the exhibition Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism (1936–1937) at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She began acquainting herself with its members, driven from Europe during War World II in the early 1940s. Tanning engaged in the Surrealist exploration of dreams as the manifestation of repressed, unconscious thoughts in paintings that combine the familiar with the unfamiliar to explore parallel realms, fears, desires, and sexuality. In contrast to the roles forced upon women within Surrealist discourse, Tanning’s female figures refute fixed identities. Endowed with agency, they are charged with the representation of perpetual kinetic states of becoming. Avatar (1947) depicts a young girl with eyes shut as she swings on a circus trapeze, a dress or shell shaped by the absence of a body dangling behind her, across the ceiling of a Victorian bedroom decorated with flower wallpaper. Unknown forces of the unconscious imagination intrude upon the domestic space. Conflating fantasy and reality, Deirdre (1940) depicts the portrait of a woman with evergreen locks of hair and a pearly complexion dressed in knotted red drapery. With the figure’s hair metamorphosing into a plant, Tanning points towards the potential of the transformative power of nature. 

Liv Cuniberti


Dorothea Tanning, Avatar, 1947. Oil on canvas, 35.6 × 27.9 cm.
Private Collection, Chicago. Courtesy The Dorothea Tanning Foundation

Central Pavilion
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Biennale Arte
Biennale Arte