This two-foot-tall, two-and-a-half foot wide oil painting features a lone figure standing at the edge of a vast sandstone desert under a wide open sky. The figure is a thin woman wearing a one-piece bathing suit, and two locks of long brown hair twisted into buns atop her head. She stands on a round, flat rock with her back to us, dwarfed by the geography and the expansive sky above. One might expect the sandstone desert to be tinted red, and the sky to be brilliant blue, but that is not how this painting has been rendered. Instead, the entire canvas has a greenish aqua tint, giving the landscape an otherworldly quality. In front of the figure is a wide canyon with a flat, hazy floor. There are large, distinct, rock formations on the right, the left, and in the distance at the center of the canvas. The sky is calm but contains a few scattered clouds along the horizon, and in a faint band arching high above the woman’s head.
Dorothea Tanning
Self-Portrait, 1944

Artwork Info

Artwork title
Artist name
Dorothea Tanning
Date created
oil on canvas
24 in. x 30 in. (60.96 cm x 76.2 cm)
Date Acquired
Collection SFMOMA
Purchase, by exchange, through a fractional gift of Shirley Ross Davis
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Permanent URL
Artwork Status
On view on floor 2 as part of Open Ended: Painting and Sculpture, 1900 to Now.

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