= The Crawford Arts Review: Dorothea Tanning Flower Paintings at Alison Jacques until Saturday 1 October

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Dorothea Tanning Flower Paintings at Alison Jacques until Saturday 1 October

Flower paintings and some of their preparatory sketches at Berners Street. Stem, leaf and petal forms that are the stuff of dreams wet and dry, being subtexed with sexual forms and, well, orifices. Dorothea Tanning was 86 when she started them. 86 years young by the looks of it. She lived to be 101.
Siderium Exaltatum (Starry Venusweed), 1997
Oil on canvas
97 x 130 cm, 38 1/4 x 51 1/8 ins unframed
99 x 132 cm, 39 x 52 ins framed
Copyright The Destina Foundation, New York
published with kind permission
In Zephirium apochripholiae (not pictured) the artist seems, since this is a flower acting as the anus, to graphically reinvent the French term pets de nonne.
She painted 12 in all, one for each month of the year. She then sat down with the same number of her poet friends, including James Merrill, Adrienne Rich and John Ashbery, and together they made a book of paintings and poems Another Language of Flowers (George Braziller Inc, 2002). Since these were imaginary flowers, they then composed fictitious Latin names for them, some quite hilarious.

So we have Flagrantis speculum veneris, Convolutus alchemelia and the beautiful Siderium Exaltatum (pictured), which translates as Starry Venusweed. Here the artist really shows her command of colour, introducing painted light into the bell of the second Venusweed.

Photograph of Dorothea Tanning
Copyright pinterest.com
with thanks
Alison Jacques
16-18 Berners Street
London W1
Tue-Fri 10-6; Sat 11-5


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  2. Thank you so much for your comment. In February (27 February to 09 June) Tate Modern has a major exhibition of the work of Dorothea Tanning https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/dorothea-tanning

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