Dorothea Tanning
Self-Portrait, 1944

Artwork Info

Artwork title
Artist name
Dorothea Tanning
Date created
oil on canvas
24 in. × 30 in. (60.96 cm × 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: SFMOMA's Collection, 1900 to Now

Audio Stories

The artist on her time in Arizona

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SFX: Fade in wind blowing, arid soundscape, distant coyote. Bells. 



Take a look at that figure, standing with her back to us. Shes the artist: Dorothea Tanning. She created this painting in her studio in New York, after spending a year in Arizona. She painted it from memory, using no reference images on purpose.  



Red rock country is what it’s called. All these fantastic red shapes. And it’s beautiful to see, but if you’re painting, you just can’t paint that red. It’s overwhelming. 


A very nice thing happens when people see you in a remote place like that. We are not the same people as when we see each other in New York parties, when everything is very tense, and even a little superficial. When you see each other in a place like Sedona, Arizona, all those fronts and those veils are down, and you speak to each other in a very true and natural way.  


SFX: Fade out arid landscape 

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