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Dorothea Tanning (1910-2012)
Bateau bleu (The Grotto)
...Still at Desjobert, working now on three stones for three colors and making the kind of technical discoveries that every artist lives for. These are held in check by the lithographic crayon which draws them all tightly together to produce an event or an enigma, take your choice. The boat, the waves and the timepiece can take you anywhere you want to go, I thought.
-Dorothea Tanning, Hail Delirium, catalog raisonne
...In...Bateau Bleu, the female has become fully conscious, even hyper-alert, and stands upright, centered in the cave-like scene. Symbols - her attributes - abound, including a watch (time is suspended in the unconscious), an eye with two pupils (the inner eye sees more) and a nest of eggs (emblem of creativity - birth). But it is in the strange, abstract, unnameable yet carefully nuanced surface, at once organic and crystalline, and dense space, obscure and threatening, that the fantasy completes itself. Tanning shows herself a complete master of mystery, her black space is at once infinitely sublime and oppressively immediate. The female figure floats in its indeterminancy yet seems firmly planted on - indeed, rooted in - some imaginary ground. She is a Daphne in process of metamorphosis into the laurel tree, standing in the still eye of a hurricane of strange, turbulent, transformative forces. She remains herself - rationally represented - but also irrationally other. She is poised on the boundary between the unconscious and the conscious.
-Donald Kuspit, The Amorphousness of Being Other: Dorothea Tanning's Prints, Hail Delirium, catalog raisonne
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