Those Who Understand the Myth, Dorthea Tanning August 25, 1910 – January 31, 2012

...There was a muddy center before we breathed.
There was a myth before the myth began,
Venerable and articulate and complete.

 After holiday gifting her second anthology of poems, Coming to That (Graywolf Press, 2011), we are sad that Dorothea Tanning died at her home in New York City on January 31, 2012.  She was 101 years old. Aunt Anna Cordelia was the same age and studied at the SAIC as well. Did their paths ever cross?  Well, at least in my life's history.

Dorothea Tanning was born in 1910 in Galesburg, Illinois and attended Knox College before studying painting in Chicago. In 1941, now in New York, she met the art dealer, Julien Levy, and his surrealist friends, refugees from Nazi occupied France. Late in 1942 Max Ernst visited her studio, saw a painting, (Birthday), and stayed to play chess. They would have 34 years together, at first in Sedona, Arizona.
Birthday, 1947 
Here she would continue to paint her enigmatic versions of life on the inside, looking out. By 1956 Max and Dorothea moved to France. Though Paris was headquarters, they preferred the country quiet lure in Touraine and Provence. These years included an intense five‐year adventure in soft sculpture.
Reclining Nude, l969-70
Max Ernst died on April 1, 1976. “Go home,” said the paint tubes, the canvases, the brushes. Returning to the United States in the late 1970s, she gave full rein to her long felt compulsion to write as well as paint. Her poems have since appeared in a number of literary reviews and magazines, such as The Yale ReviewPoetryThe Paris ReviewThe New YorkerThe Boston ReviewThe Southwest ReviewParnassus, and in Best Poems of 2002 and 2005. Her published works include two memoirs, Birthday and Between Lives, a collection of poems, A Table of Content, and a novel, Chasm.

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