By Dorothea Tanning
Fourteen years ago, the artist Dorothea Tanning published Birthday, a collection of reminiscences. Now she has expanded it into a memoir of her journey through the last century as confidant, collaborator, and muse to some of its most inspired minds and personalities: a diverse assemblage that ranges from the fathers of dada and surrealism to Virgil Thompson, George Balanchine, Alberto Giacometti, Dylan Thomas, Truman Capote, Joan Miró, James Merrill, and many more. At its center is the relationship, tenderly rendered, between Tanning and her famed husband, the enigmatic surrealist Max Ernst.
Whether recalling the poignant presence of her friend Joseph Cornell or simply marveling at the facades along a Venice canal, "their filmy reflections fluttering in the dirty canal like fragile altar cloths hung out to dry," Tanning's writing is beguiling, wry, and shot through with the same eye for pregnant detail and immanent magic that marks her art.