Yves Tanguy. He Did What He Wanted. 1927
Yves Tanguy

He Did What He Wanted

Not on view
Oil on canvas
31 1/4 x 25 1/2" (79.4 x 64.8 cm)
Bequest of Richard S. Zeisler
Object number
© 2015 Estate of Yves Tanguy / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Painting and Sculpture

This painting was exhibited as part of Tanguy’s first solo show, at the Galerie Surréaliste, Paris, in 1927. Before the exhibition opened Tanguy and Surrealist leader André Breton invented titles for the paintings based on a 1922 book called Treaty of Metapsychics by Charles Richet, a Nobel Prize winner for medicine, which explored mysterious forms of cognition—a subject that resonated with the Surrealist interest in the unconscious and in dream states. The title of this work refers to a phenomenon Richet describes in which hypnotized subjects refuse to obey external commands. In early works, such as this one, Tanguy defined his signature style: a vaguely geological, otherworldly terrain strewn with symbols and enigmatic creatures. His biomorphic forms, rendered with a painterly treatment of surface that approaches abstraction, had a profound impact on postwar painters such as Matta and Arshile Gorky.

Gallery label from 2015

Provenance Research Project
This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.
The artist, Paris. 1927
Galerie Surréaliste, Paris. 1927
André Breton, Paris. [1927 - 1963?]
Richard S. Zeisler, New York. By 1963 - 2007
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Bequest of Richard S. Zeisler, 2007

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This work is not on view.
Yves Tanguy has 61 works online.
There are 2,048 paintings online.