June 1, 2001– September 16, 2001
Organized by the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart and presented at The Menil Collection in Houston (in its only U.S. venue) from June 1—September 16, 2001, this retrospective exhibition honors the French painter Yves Tanguy (1900—1955) on the centennial of his birth. A member of the Surrealist group, founded by André Breton in October 1924, Tanguy’s paintings are entirely individualistic and meticulously painted. They consist, typically, of unidentifiable objects, somewhat like marine forms and rock formations, scattered in a vast landscape of unreal, dreamlike perspectives. Tanguy succeeded, more than any other Surrealist painter, in creating a tangible but inexplicable reality of the unreal atmosphere of a dream. This anniversary exhibition assembles 55 paintings, 15 works on paper, and one sculpture, all created during the twenty-five years of Tanguy’s artistic career. Essentially self-taught, Tanguy’s earliest works show the initial influence of Cubism and Futurism. After he met Breton in 1925, Tanguy’s art assumed the idiosyncratic imagery that would become its hallmark. Inspired by the harsh peninsulas, rough cliffs, and Neolithic rock formations of his native Brittany, Tanguy embraced and transformed this miraculous landscape in abstract compositions of amoebic or bonelike forms dominating a far horizon.
Reproduction, including downloading of Tanguy, Miro, Man Ray, or Breton works is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of the copyright holder. Requests for reproduction should be directed to Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
© 2001 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris
The Exquisite Corpse
June 1—September 9, 2001
Gather around a table with friends. Take a sheet of paper. Start a drawing, keeping it hidden from view. Fold the paper over, leaving only a few lines showing. Pass to the next player, so that they can do the same, picking up where you left off. Continue until the last player has drawn, then unfold the paper to reveal a surreal creation—a Cadavre Exquis or Exquisite Corpse. A parlor game invented by the literary and artistic avant-garde of 1920s Paris, Exquisite Corpse survives today as a fascinating insight into the Surrealist mindset, in all its playfulness, spontaneity, and strangeness.
This small companion exhibition to the “Yves Tanguy Retrospective”—consisting of some 35 examples of Exquisite Corpse drawings—sheds a contemporary light on the life and work of Yves Tanguy and his fellow Surrealist artists.
The Exquisite Corpse began in 1925 as a writing game, with each player contributing a word or two; no one saw the other’s contribution until a sentence was finished. The game took its name from the first string of words that resulted: “The exquisite corpse will drink the new wine.” That surreal statement, the creation of five players, broke down thusly: (1) Le cadavre (2) exquis (3) boirale (4) vin (5) nouveau.
The Menil Collection’s “The Exquisite Corpse” exhibition focuses on the visual variant of the game: instead of a sentence, a figure was constructed. Created in collaboration by the likes of Joan Miró, Man Ray, Tanguy with poets as Paul Eluard, Tristan Tzara, and Jacques Prevert, the awkward and amusing “corpses”—strange hybrids of machine and beast, often erotic and sometimes horrific—are indeed exquisite, and always surreal.