Tanguy, Yves

Tanguy, Yves Biography

French-born American painter who made a highly individual contribution to Surrealism.

After World War I he served as an officer in the French merchant marine and later returned to Paris, where, in 1925, he became one of the surrealists. Yves Tanguy's oil paintings of strange and fantastic bones and amoebalike shapes, arranged in flat, lifeless, imaginary landscapes, quickly won recognition. Although belonging to a haunted dream world, his figures were smoothly painted in clear colors with painstaking detail. The artist moved to the United States in 1939 and later became a U.S. citizen.

After sailing with the merchant marine in his youth, Yves Tanguy in 1922 returned to Paris, where he lived a Bohemian life and searched for a vocation. In 1923 a painting by Giorgio de Chirico that he saw in an art gallery made such a strong impression on him that he immediately took up oil painting. He joined the Surrealists in 1925, and he subsequently participated in all the Surrealists' major exhibitions. He visited the United States in 1939 and settled there, becoming a U.S. citizen in 1948.

His oil paintings depict groups of strange, unidentifiable objects that resemble marine invertebrates or sculpturesque rock formations. These ambiguous forms are painted with smooth, painstaking detail and are set in barren, brightly lit landscapes that have an infinite horizon and a timeless, dreamlike quality. After Yves Tanguy resettled in the United States, the objects in his paintings took on a more metallic appearance. Yves Tanguy's eerie and illogical oil paintings made him the artist most faithful to Surrealist precepts.

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