Alyce Mahon, curator of the exhibition Dorothea Tanning. Behind the Door, Another Invisible Door (Museo Reina Sofía, 3 October 2018 – 7 January 2019), will conduct a pre-opening guided tour of this retrospective, which explores the seventy-year-long career of the American artist.
Leaving behind the white-cube exhibition model, the show evokes the surrealist concept of space as it seeks to transfer Tanning’s oneiric figurations to the sphere of reality in a succession of themed rooms, where the artistic and lived obsessions that run through different stages of her work are laid out. This encounter with the curator is conceived as a survey which allows visitors to become immersed in the surrealist universe of hallucinations and phantoms as they walk through the exhibition.
As with Leonora Carrington, Remedios Varo and Dora Maar, Dorothea Tanning (1910–2012) found in Surrealism a vehicle for expressing an unchartered and tormented world. Her work reveals the transformations of this movement across more than seven decades, from the first enigmatic narrative paintings in the 1930s to the soft sculptures from the 1970s, which evoke fractured and wildly contoured bodies and connect to contemporary experiences from that decade. In the final stage of her life, Tanning also worked as a distinguished novelist and poet.
Alyce Mahon is a Reader (Associate Professor) in Modern & Contemporary Art History at the University of Cambridge where she has worked since 2000. She completed her PhD at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, in 1999 and is the author of the monographs Surrealism and the Politics of Eros, 1938-1968 (Thames & Hudson, 2005; Spanish translation Surrealismo Eros y Politica, Alianza 2009) and Eroticism & Art (Oxford University Press, 2005). She has served as curatorial advisor on numerous international Surrealist exhibitions and her contributions to catalogues include Dreamers Awake (White Cube, London, 2017), Silent Partners: Artist and Mannequin from Function to Fetish (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge and Musée Bourdelle, Paris, 2015), Le Surréalisme et l’objet (Pompidou, 2013), Leonora Carrington (Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, 2013) and Angels of Anarchy: Women Artists and Surrealism (Manchester City Art Gallery, 2009).
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