Dorothea Tanning

Tableau vivant

About this artwork

Dorothea Tanning was one of the most celebrated of the American Surrealists. She met the artist Max Ernst in New York in 1942 and they married in 1946. Their dog, a Lhasa Apso terrier named Katchina, appears regularly in Tanning’s work. Sometimes the dog is the artist's alter-ego and at other times appears as a witness or protagonist. Tanning painted this work while living in France. It was originally titled L’Etreinte, which means ‘The Embrace’ or even ‘The Stranglehold’. A few months later, she re-titled it Tableau Vivant – ‘Living Picture’. She was evasive about its meaning. It is unclear if it is an image of possession and dominance or of love, support and protection; it may be all these things. It was one of her favourite works: she kept it above her desk.

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Dorothea Tanning

Dorothea Tanning

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