Yves Tanguy

Alternative Name(s): Raymond Georges Yves Tanguy
Date of Birth: 5 January, 1900
Place of Birth: Paris, France
Date of Death: January 15, 1955
Focus: Painter
Art movement: Surrealism
Nationality: French, American

Famous Yves Tanguy Artwork

Yves Tanguy Biography

Despite his lack of formal training in art, Yves Tanguy took up painting at age 22. Before that, he had served in the merchant navy and the French army.

In 1923, deeply impressed by the sight of a painting by Giorgio de Chirico, Tanguy was spurred on to produce his own expressionistic works. By 1925, however, Tanguy’s work became more surrealistic.

Tanguy’s body of work is unique, intriguing and enigmatic. They are not easily interpreted, and generally defy description in that most of the pieces are non-representational and non-figurative. Nevertheless, his work is said to be of the purest form of surrealism.

He adopted a style known as biomorphism. This style was so-named because the images depicted were based on living organisms. Many of his works feature collections of bones of varying sizes that seem extremely organic. The colors are muted, with only occasional flashes of brightness.

The concept of automatism has also been ascribed to Tanguy’s work. In this sense, the images he painted were thought to be derived from the unconscious, and were seen as spontaneous and reflexive.

Yves Tanguy held his first exhibition at the Galerie Surréaliste in Paris during May and June of 1927. He emigrated to the U.S.A. in 1939. Soon after, Tanguy married Kay Sage, a fellow-artist.

In the years leading up to his untimely death, Tanguy’s work took on a darker aspect. They suggested foreboding and desolation. His 1954 Multiplications of the Arcs seems somewhat funereal, and is akin to a graveyard.