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Yves Tanguy

The Wish



Yves Tanguy (1900-1955)


The Wish




Oil and ink on linen


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

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

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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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