Archive for surrealism

Goodbye Dorothea Tanning. Gone But Not Forgotten.

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY with tags , , , , , on August 25, 2020 by echostains

To commemorate this wonderful Surrealist artist, I dedicate this post.

The oldest living Surrealist artist Dorothea Tanning passed away January 31 2012 at the great age of 101.  Tanning was born in Galesburg Illinois USA 1910, attending Knox College  before living in Chicago for several years.  In 1936 whilst attending the exhibition  Fantastic Art, Dada and Surrealism at the Museum of Modern Art New York, Tanning discovered the wonderful world of Surrealism and Dada.  To support herself, Tanning worked as a commercial artist, but she  soon began to work on her own surreal paintings in the early 1940s.

Lee Millar portrait of Tanning and Ernst

She was introduced to Julien Levy, a gallery owner who was to show her work and give her two one person exhibitions in 1944 and 1948.  He introduced her to a circle of Surrealists  whose work he was showing in his New York gallery.  The young artist fell immediately in love with German surrealist Max Ernst and married him in 1946.  Tanning’s surreal paintings have a dreamlike quality and a very individual style.

She lived in  France with Ernst after the war for 28 years.  Her work features in MOMA. The George Pompidou Centre. The Tate Gallery London and many more collections around the world.  She created costumes for  Balanchine between the 1940s and 50s and sculptures in the 70s

Maternity 1946

At the age of 91 the artist was asked how she felt about carrying the surrealist banner;-

I guess I’ll be called a surrealist forever, like a tattoo: “D. Loves S.” I still believe in the surrealist effort to plumb our deepest subconscious to find out about ourselves. But please don’t say I’m carrying the surrealist banner. The movement ended in the ’50s and my own work had moved on so far by the ’60s that being a called a surrealist today makes me feel like a fossil!

Birthday 1942

Tanning moved back to New York in 1979 after Ernst’s death. Among others, she found a friend in Pulitzer Prize-winning poet James Merrill. It was Merrill

 “Who more than anyone at that point of my life, made me realize that living was still wonderful even though I felt that my loss, Max, had left nothing but ashes,” she says. “So if I took up brushes again, and the pen, to work for 20 more solitary years — and am still at it — it was Jimmy who made me want to, and so proved himself right.”

Tanning published her first book in 1986, The book is a collection of reminiscences and is called “Birthday,” after her most famous painting.


Her career spanned 6 decades, she was a printmaker, sculptor – she  wrote and published  poems and a novel.  She counselled young artists with these words;-

“Keep your eye on your inner world and keep away from ads, idiots and movie stars.”

I was lucky enough to see her work in 2001 at a surrealist exhibition at the Tate Modern, called ‘Desire Unbound’ 2001 .  Her dreamlike scenarios work ensure that she is still known as a surrealist.

Palaestra 1947


One of my posts about Women Surrealists and their work can be found here

Night Music image from here

Voltage, Palaestra, Ernst and Tanning, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik portrait by Lee Millar, Maternity from the wonderful where lots of her work can be found

Birthday image from here

More about Dorothea Tanning can be found here

Interview with the artist can be found here

Happy Eccentric Birthday Salvador Dali!

Posted in ART, ART VIDEOS, ARTISTS BIRTHDAYS, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 11, 2020 by echostains


Today is the birthday of the Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dali (1904 – 1989)  As I have already written a post about the artist (here) I thought it might be fun to take a look at the personality of Dali the man – the fun bits.   This video I think shows the artist’s very individuality.  Dali illustrates that he is all things to all people (and especially to himself) as he struggles slightly to understand the English language    There is also a childishness, a naivity which I find very charming about the artist.  I suspect that under all the bluster there may have been a rather shy, quiet person.

Dali is one of those people who can be unintentionally funny – though sometimes you are not quite sure what he intends (he was after all a surrealist so strange behaviour is almost compulsory)  The advertisers certainly got their money’s worth from the dramatic Dali in this short advertisement.  Who knew eating chocolate could be such a surreal experience 😀

The last video shows some of the prolific Dali’s paintings. Where did all the eccentric artists go?  There doesn’t seem to be any to measure up to Dali the man, for his sense of humour, his talent and his bizarre way of looking at things.  What a great artist and character he was!


Thanks to  and   and  for the videos!

Surreal Thing Happy Birthday Dali!

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY, ARTISTS BIRTHDAYS with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 11, 2020 by echostains

Dali is a superb draughtsman.  Some years ago I visited the Dali Universe, County Hall, London. salvador-dali-quotes-famous-best-sayings oneThis 3,000 square metre space housed sculptures, (1935 -1984), lithographs, drawings and wonderful  furniture inspired by Dali: gold and glass objects and  even copies of the famous lobster telephone and the Mae West lips sofa!

There were no major paintings on display, apart from the oil he did for Hitchcock’s ‘1945 film ‘Spellbound‘.  I took great delight in looking through Dali’s drawings which are simply exquisite and show not only his draughtsmanship skills, but how exacting and precise his execution of drawing was. His imagination may have been wild, but his skills struck me as very honed and precise, not something I associate with Surrealism.  Surreal, I know!


Dali and his wild cat Babou


Too much has been written about this famous Spanish artist: some by myself (please see my earlier birthday posts here and for further Dali eccentricities here ).

Dali loved wild animals.  His favorite pet was a wildcat, an Ocelot, called Babou whom he would take to restaurants, tethering the animal to a table and causing alarm to fellow diners.

The surreal image below shows Dali emerging from the Paris underground taking two Anteaters for a walk (1969).  Andre Breton, (Founder of the Surrealist movement) who was known  as ‘le tamanoir’ – ‘the anteater’)  used this image as bookplates for several books and Dali was to depict the style of the anteater in his famous 1929 painting ‘The Great Masturbator’

Dali taking a Parisian walk with his pets Dali taking a Parisian walk with his pets


One of Dali’s famous stunts was staged at London’s International Surrealist Exhibition, 1936 when he gave a lecture whilst wearing a deep-sea diving suit. He very nearly suffocated.  His wild exaggerated gestures were mistaken for his usual amusing form of eccentricity.  Luckily for him a poet, David Gascoyne rescued Dali – with a spanner!

The Great Masturbator 1929


A mysterious fire broke out in the artist’s bedroom in 1984, fortunately Dali was rescued by a friend, Robert Descharnes.  Dali was returned his beloved  Figueres , Spain (his birthplace), where his friends and  artists looked after him. In November 1988 he went to hospital with heart failure.  On 23rd January 1989, the artist died of heart failure at the age of 84.  He is buried in the crypt in his Teatro Museo in Figueres, much loved and much admired by most artists and non artists alike.


Images, with thanks are from here and here     the Ocelot image here, others from here    and here   

For historical characters with unusual pets here

Here’s some stuff you might not know about Dali here


Weird and Wacky : Fright Lights!

Posted in DESIGN, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on May 16, 2014 by echostains


Weird lamps for old!   Lighting has always been a valuable consideration when creating ambiance to a room.  But  if you  want to  add  thrills, drama, laughter or just simply offer an unusual focal  point that will get your guests talking (and maybe reeling with shock a bit) – then look no further than these very original and enigmatic lamps!from-simple-to-weird-interior-lamps6


This naughty ‘pooping’ doggie  is actually called ‘Good Boy’.  He may not be to everyone’s taste, however he’s no shrinking violet in the design stakes. Crafted by  UK artist Whatshisname (really) the doggies little brother Good Puppy is also an attention seeker.  The lamps are floor lamps and  to activate them, one must tread on the accompanying dog turd switch.  They are available from the artist ‘Whatshisname’.


Pondering the age-old question about what to do with those dolls heads you keep falling over? I know I am.  Check out this video which shows you how to make your own exciting lamps out of them.

Alternatively you can buy a ready-made weird wired baby lamp from Wired-Weird-Baby-Doll-Lamps-3many sources featured here.

Here's one I saved from an early art project Here’s one I saved from an early art project









‘Out Demons Out’ How to out your demons?  Bring them into the light with this cheeky  Demon lamp via here  He’s made from the skull of a land turtle which was found in the hills of Polk County.  His wings are made from copper and brass tubings and when he’s lit (2 x 15w bulbs) he will creep you out!  Maybe not one for the bedroom?

The Demon Lamp The Demon Lamp

Thought dummies belonged in a shop window?  Here’s some that have escaped. These mannequin lamps from AL-Hamad Design remind me of the veiled mourning statues the Victorians loved so much.



Embarakiya Embarakiya

However, when anyone  puts these babies in the corner they won’t be ignored for long.  The male ones talk via a built-in speaker in the torso!  All the lamps have a touch sensor in the hand which include three dimmer setting.  Shaking hands with them will turn them on – and off!  The costumes are dressed in  traditional  Kuwaiti costume.  I think they’re great!

Pooping dog images from here and here.  Video ‘How to make a Dolls Head Nightlight  mausoleum Statue image from here.  Thanks to all.


Weird and Wacky design – Hair brained?

Posted in ART, WEIRD AND WACKY DESIGN with tags , , , , , on March 5, 2010 by echostains


Victorian mourning brooch with hair picture

Hair is an important part of us.  When we are gone, we know that our hair will go on…. and on. The Victorians kept locks of their loved ones hair long after death and made it into mourning jewelry or ‘Mememto Mori ( remember you must die)  These included brooches, rings necklaces, pictures even earings!

mimi parent

But hair is now being used in ecology. This free home-grown commodity is also being used as art medium.   It’s not a new idea, Surrealist artist  Mimi Parent (b. 1924 – 2005 Montreal) used hair in her work.

hair chair by ronald thompson

Former London hairdresser Ronald Thompson,  has used clipping to make a hair chair which is very durable.  He is now researching uses for this free recyclable resource and predicts  that in the future clothing, boats and even mascara could be made of it!

The story of Carlos Sute, a small dwarf who amused himself after being marooned, by building himself a 3ft boat out of his own hair gave artist/hairdresser  Carlos Dimas the inspiration to make his own version (see the short video)

hair shoes

I don’t know quite what to make of these hair shoes though – seems a waste of hair to me.  I wonder if you shampoo condition and style them when they get dirty…..

dress made of human hair by a Croatian company in 2005

This hair dress must have taken a lot of work and used a lot of hair.  Glad to see that this trend hasn’t caught on yet… much be itchy?   

Images from a 2005 exhibition here

More bizarre things made from hair here

Fantastic Victorian and Georgian hair jewelry here

The article about Ronald Thompson here

Hair braid shoes images and others here

‘Teapots to have, to hold and to stroke’

Posted in ART HISTORY, DESIGN, TEAPOTS - A HOMAGE TO UNUSUAL TEAPOTS with tags , , , , , on January 8, 2010 by echostains

Meret Oppenheim tea cup, saucer and spoon

 One of German born Surrealist Meret Oppenheim’s most famous pieces is this fur teacup and saucer.  Apparently she got the idea from Picasso who remarked when they were having tea together that anything could be covered with fur.  She obliged by producing the cup saucer and spoon.  the surrealist like to subvert incongruous texture and objects.  The fur used is from a Chinese gazelle and transposes the idea of genteel tea drinking women with a more sensuous  image.  I shall be writing a piece on this artist later.

gerry Congdon art quits

Teapots can be made from any material – even chocolate (as a past post proves).  But fabric is so innovative!  I really like this one from Gerrie Congdon’s Art Quilt Gallery which I think is amazingly quirky and fun.  So lovely, I would be afraid to clean it – in fact how would I clean it?

Fabric teapot by Bombus Design

These fabric teapots are far and few between.  I could hardly believe my luck when I found this stupendous one from Bombus Design .  They have  some beautiful  fabric vessels and even fabric globe dishes!

 For some more fabric teapots, go to ‘And Sew it goes’ blog

Happy Birthday Rene Magritte!

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY, ARTISTS BIRTHDAYS with tags , , on November 21, 2009 by echostains

Rene Magritte

It’s Belgian Surrealist artist Rene Magritte’s birthday today (1898 -1967). His witty and strange juxtopositioning of everyday objects became talking points in artistic circles in his own lifetime.

Betrayal of Images 1953

In a range of paintings which Magritte called ‘The treachery of images’ (1928 1929) the artist draws attention to everyday objects like this pipe by writing underneath it (in French) ‘This is not a pipe’ arguing that the painting was just that, an image of a pipe and not a pipe. That’s the sort of quirkiness that made him controversial at the time. Magritte seemed to do a lot of this, each painting became a riddle. 

1931-magritte the entrance. the sky is one of Magritte's trademarks


Magritte uses several symbols in his imagery – bells, curtains, clouds, apples, umbrellas and draped objects.  These symbols recur throughout his art.  It’s as if the artist himself is trying to solve the enigma of these images, (an enigma he has created, I may add)  

Gloconde 1953. it's raining men!

 Though he collaborated with other surrealists such as Man Ray and Yves Tanguy, his relationship with Andre Bretton (founder) was always rocky. 

the Lovers

When Belgium  was invaded by German in 194o, Magritte fled to France.  But his relationship with the Parisian artists was also fraught with difficulties. Magritte adhered to his own ideas.  By 1953 the artist was commissioned to paint murals that were destined for the Chandelier Hall in Knokke casino (Belgium)  and had also started to make short films.  Magritte was creative all his life and a very innovative artist of his time, always willing to enquire, question and push boundaries.

the human condition

For a more in-depth look at the artist’s life and work look HERE

and  HERE

Happy Birthday Man Ray!

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY, ARTISTS BIRTHDAYS with tags , , , on August 27, 2009 by echostains

Man Ray with Dali

Man Ray with Dali

It’s American Surrealist photographer Man Ray’s birthday today.  Born in 1890 -1976: original name Emmanuel Radnitzky, is best known for his work as a photographer though he thought of himself as a painter.

Kiki 'Queen of Montparnasse'

Kiki 'Queen of Montparnasse'

He contributed to the Surrealist and Dada movements and was reknown as a fashion and portrait photographer.  He liked to refer to  these as his ‘photograms’ or ‘Rayograms’.



This avant- garde artist has been highly influential in a number of fields including  film, sculpture, collage and even performance and conceptual art. 

Man Ray glass tears

Man Ray glass tears

For more of his work, including his biography see HERE

For more of my birthday blogs;-




Leonardo da Vinci

Hart Benton


Van Gogh








Marcel Duchamp

Aubrey Beardsley