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Dorothea Tanning, American, 1910 - 2012

Made in United States, North and Central America


Oil on canvas

40 1/4 × 25 1/2 inches (102.2 × 64.8 cm) Frame: 47 3/8 × 32 3/4 × 2 1/2 inches (120.3 × 83.2 × 6.4 cm)

© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Curatorial Department:
American Art

* Gallery 269, Modern and Contemporary Art, second floor

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
125th Anniversary Acquisition. Purchased with funds contributed by C. K. Williams, II, 1999

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This picture marked an early turning point for Tanning, who was coming into her own as a member of the Surrealist group in New York. Birthday depicts the artist as both a flesh-and-blood individual and a guide to an imaginary realm.

Tanning creates the dreamlike feeling in this painting in ways both obvious and subtle. The disconcerting perspective of the endless hallways is immediately evident, along with the fantastic creature at her feet. However, the deeply tilted floors and her robe comprised of writhing human bodies require a closer examination of the scene.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.