Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
24.2005
People
Dorothea Tanning, American (Galesburg, Illinois 1910 - 2012 New York, New York)
Title
Portfolio
Other Titles
Alternate Title: School Girl
Classification
Prints
Work Type
print
Date
1992
Culture
American
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/48133
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Lithograph printed in colors, with folding portfolio element
Technique
Lithograph
Dimensions
greatest dimen.: 122.3 x 60.3 cm (48 1/8 x 23 3/4 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: Dorothea Tanning
  • inscription: lower corners of back board, graphite, hand written, signed, in artist's hand: edition numbering, signature: P/P Dorothea Tanning
State, Edition, Standard Reference Number
Edition
P/P
Standard Reference Number
B. & M. p. 296
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Anonymous loan
Copyright
© The Dorothea Tanning Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Object Number
24.2005
Division
Modern and Contemporary Art
Contact
am_moderncontemporary@harvard.edu
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Descriptions
Commentary
This lithograph is very much a latter-day Tanning, and she herself admits it is a retrospective self-portrait, according to the dealer from which this was purchased. The print shows Tanning as a young art student carrying her portfolio of drawings, which when opened proves to hold her psychic self, her self-projection as an erotic fantasy, naked from the waist down (whatever part of her body that does not show with the portfolio closed). She rides a red-feathered cyclopean humanoid of indeterminate sex which, in turn, rides a white avian creature on a perch; the red creature is wringing the neck of the white creature. Although Tanning shows herself at a very young age -- perhaps still an adolescent -- the monstrous birds suggest she is significantly older.

She moved to New York City in 1935 and in the 1940s met the surrealist painter Max Ernst, whom she would marry in 1946. Ernst characteristically personified his iconic motifs as savant bird forms, and thus this young girl riding high over two surrealist (in her own style) birds, in a tableau filled with sex and violence, must evoke her existence after the war, when she and Ernst lived in France for the most part.

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Modern and Contemporary Art at am_moderncontemporary@harvard.edu