Unknown but Knowable States

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Still in the Studio , 1979 Oil On Canvas © Courtesy Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco
Unknown but Knowable States

161 Jessie Street
94105 San Francisco
January 10th, 2013 - March 2nd, 2013
Opening: January 10th, 2013 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM

(415) 346-7812
Mon-Sat 11-6


Unknown but Knowable States will feature rare and ground-breaking paintings, drawings, and sculptures by Dorothea Tanning. For the first time, the gallery will be dedicating the entire 5,000 square foot space to the work of one artist, paying tribute to Tanning’s fearless vision and prolific body of work. Focusing on works creating between 1960 and 1979, during which the Surrealist artist and writer lived, worked, and exhibited in Paris, the show will include over thirty pieces, and will be documented in a 60-page catalog featuring an essay by Catriona McAra.

Included amongst these works will be Chiens de Cythère (Dogs of Cythera)(1963), a turbulent composition in oil on canvas displaying an erotically charged, organic abstraction prefiguring that of contemporary art star Cecily Brown, and Tanning’s largest painting ever completed. Soft sculptures like Étreinte(1969) elaborate on this unbridled, biomorphic aesthetic, emulating her seminal installation piece Hôtel du Pavot, Chambre 202 (1970-73.) This work originally exhibited in and now in the collection of the Centre George Pompidou in Paris, prefigures contemporary installation artists such as Urs Fischer, Sandy Skoglund, and Kim Dingle by decades. Much like Unknown but Knowable States, a quote attributed to Tanning herself during this period, the works protrude from the walls, grow from the floor, and define a haunting physical and psychological space. As a whole the exhibition offers a rare, in-depth opportunity to experience the scope and magnitude of work Tanning accomplished during two productive decades of her long career.

Dorothea Tanning’s work is included in nearly fifty museum collections including The Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Tate Modern, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Hood Museum of Art. Her paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures have been widely exhibited in the US and abroad, and her poetry has appeared in such publications as the Yale Review, the New Yorker, and Poetry. Born in 1910 in Galesburg, Illinois, Dorothea Tanning studied in Chicago before meeting art dealer Julien Levy, and the Surrealist painter Max Ernst in New York. A contributing participant to the Surrealist movement, she went on to marry Ernst in a double ceremony with Man Ray and Juliet Browner. She and Ernst lived and worked in the US and France during their 34 years together. Tanning passed away in Manhattan in 2012 at the age of 101. Gallery Wendi Norris has been working with Tanning and The Dorothea Tanning Foundation for nearly six years, and this is the second solo exhibition of her work with the gallery.

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