Sunday, February 05, 2012

Farewell to Dorothea Tanning

"I'll hold a revolver up to nature."

– Dorothea Tanning

Tate Modern, which houses this soft sculpture among other wonderful pieces by Tanning, is a very unsympathetic place in which to encounter poetic objects. But Tanning's creatures are so fierce and brilliant that they can grab the viewer by the nipples, even in the middle of a shopping mall built for tourists.

A few years ago I went to the Tate to pay this object a visit. As usual, the place was full of blind-deaf modern art buffs; and as usual, the men were droning their "artistic insights" into the ears of their bored female companions. One particularly tedious twerp was standing in front of this sculpture and explaining it at great length to the woman beside him, with all of the usual obfuscations and cretinisms about the "meaning" of Surrealism, using all the weapons in his art-historical arsenal to fend off the object's appalling erotic power .... and all the while he spoke, he was helplessly, compulsively and absolutely unconsciously caressing his own chest.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I went to see a retrospective show of Dorothea Tanning,as an anxious art student, in the mid 1970s at the Camden Art Centre. She made a sudden and unexpected appearance, alongside Conroy Maddox,,which caused quite a fuss. I really regret not going up and saying something to her at the time. This show was such a revelation to me and I went away with so much excitement.It would have been wonderful just to let her know that.Oh well......