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Between Lives
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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 Miro, 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.
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About the Author

Dorothea Tanning's painting and sculpture rank among the most inventive of any living American artist. Her poetry has appeared in The New Republic, Partisan Review, and The Paris Review, among many other publications, and was included in The Best American Poetry 2000. She lives in New York City.

Reviews

"In buoyant and electric prose, laced with wit and leavened with ungrudging generosity, Dorothea Tanning has given us in this memoir a brilliant account of the fizz and panache of a truly remarkable life: Stravinsky provides her wedding champagne; at a Paris soiree, Andre Malraux upstages Orson Welles; J. Robert Oppenheimer turns up at Les Deux Magots; and the gentle and enigmatic surrealist Max Ernst, Ms. Tanning's husband, is the presiding spirit. This is a sustained success of recuperative magic." -- Anthony Hecht "It seems hardly fair that Dorothea Tanning, in a long, passionately inventive career as a painter, should have acquired as well the other harmony of prose, and that her passionate inventions as a writer should be so lovingly, so wisely resolved. Indeed it is not fair at all: the Muse was never an equal-opportunity employer, and the only appropriate response to Between Lives is untempered gratitude. How grateful I am for the Muse's caprice, twice over, for Dorothea Tanning is a dauntless writer who is entitled to love her life; she created it, and now, quite unfairly, I love it, too." -- Richard Howard

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