Yves Tanguy

(1900 - 1955)
Yves Tanguy Le Ruban des excès [The Ribbon of Excess] 1932 © ARS, NY and DACS, London 2017.


Tanguy was born in Paris. He had no formal art training but decided to become a painter in 1923 after seeing two paintings by the Italian metaphysical painter Giorgio de Chirico in the window of an art gallery, while riding on a bus. He had previously been in the merchant navy until 1922. Tanguy became a member of the surrealist group in 1925 and had his first solo exhibition just two years later. By this time he had already developed a distinctive style of painting, which featured strange landscapes inhabited by cell-like shapes. In 1939 Tanguy moved to America and became an American citizen eight years later.

Glossary terms

  • A literary and artistic movement founded by the poet André Breton in 1924. Many of the associated artists, such as Max Ernst and Jean Arp, had previously been involved with Dadaism. The movement sought to challenge conventions through the exploration of the subconscious mind, invoking the power of dreams and elements of chance. Cultural hierarchies were challenged by the combination of diverse elements in collages and sculptural assemblages. The movement is also notable for the collaborations between artists and writers evident in the Surrealists' many publications.