Yves Tanguy. He Did What He Wanted. 1927

Yves Tanguy He Did What He Wanted 1927

  • The Museum of Modern Art, Floor 5, Collection Galleries

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.
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
31 1/4 x 25 1/2" (79.4 x 64.8 cm)
Credit
Bequest of Richard S. Zeisler
Object number
206.2008
Copyright
© 2018 Estate of Yves Tanguy / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Department
Painting and Sculpture

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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