On Fire

  • Dorothea Tanning, On Fire, 1949, pencil and colored pencil on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase made possible by Mrs. Gibson Fahnestock, 1995.10

Exhibition Label
The breathless, fleeing girl with clothing in flames epitomizes Tanning’s surreal narratives. The ambiguity of the half-clothed figure suggests a state of metamorphosis. Her forward thrust is thwarted by a brick wall that swallows her forearms. As in a nightmare. Tanning had fled Paris on the brink of war in 1939, and she returned in 1949 to a devastated city. Despite the possible biographical connection, the meaning of this image is unclear because, as the artist explained, “My work is about the enigmatic, about leaving the door open to imagination.”

Graphic Masters II: Highlights from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2009

Title
On Fire
Artist
Date
1949
Location
Not on view
Dimensions
sheet and image: 13 7/8 x 9 7/8 in. (35.4 x 25.1 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Museum purchase made possible by Mrs. Gibson Fahnestock

Mediums
Mediums Description
pencil and colored pencil on paper
Classifications
Keywords
  • Portrait female – Tanning, Dorothea – full length
  • Occupation – art – painter
  • Occupation – art – printmaker
  • Occupation – art – sculptor
  • Disaster – fire
  • Occupation – art – designer
Object Number
1995.10
Palette
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

More from artist

More Artworks from the Collection