An Illinois native, Dorothea Tanning studied at the Art Institute of Chicago before relocating to New York in the 1930s. She had haunted the halls of the Institute, soaking in the lessons of centuries of painting, but it was at New York’s brand-new Museum of Modern Art that she found inspiration that would buoy her nascent career. The seminal 1936 exhibition Fantastic Art, Dada, and Surrealism, organized by MoMA director Alfred Barr, included works by more than 150 artists spanning over five centuries. Tanning found her own artistic voice through the vocabulary of Surrealism and would go on to create Surrealist works for the next several decades. She was discovered by émigré artist Max Ernst when he visited her studio on behalf of his patron Peggy Guggenheim, and their relationship would grow into one of the more fruitful artistic marriages of the twentieth century.


Tanning exhibited her work for the first time in 1937, and thereafter exhibited consistently until her death in 2012. Examples of her work can be found in major institutions across the globe, including: Tate, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Max Ernst Museum, Brühl; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and Moderna Museet, Stockholm.

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