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Yves Tanguy

The Wish

1949

Artist

Yves Tanguy (1900-1955)

Title

The Wish

Date

1949

Medium

Oil and ink on linen

Dimensions

Overall: 36 3/16 × 28 1/4 in. (91.9 × 71.8 cm)

Credit line

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Kay Sage Tanguy Bequest

Accession number

63.46

Object Label

Early on in his career, Yves Tanguy formulated his signature technique of covering canvas with paint thinned to an almost liquid consistency, which allowed an extraordinary subtle and controlled gradation of tones. This tonality helps create the macabre effect of The Wish, where ossified, almost sculptural formations populate a primeval landscape. The absence of any fixed horizon between the spongy sky and misted ground invokes an atmosphere of foreboding and isolation. The twisted Surrealist structures seem to exist in a world without time. While living in France, Tanguy returned often to the Breton coastline, near his childhood home, where the haunting menhirs—upright stone structures used in prehistoric worship and burial practices—bear a distinct resemblance to his own totemic painterly forms.

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