It has frequently been pointed out that almost all Tanguy's works strongly suggest beach scenes or submarine landscapes. It was André Breton (1896-1966), the chief spokesman of Surrealism, and the first owner of Old horizon who invented the 'Neptunian' metaphor to describe Tanguy's paintings: 'the sea ebbs far off disclosing as far as the eye can see sands on which crawl, stand erect, arch, sink and sometimes fly, formations of an entirely new character, without any immediate equivalent in nature, and which, it must be pointed out, have not to this day yielded to any valid interpretation'.1
Perhaps his forms have 'no immediate equivalent in nature'; none the less in a number of the transitional paintings made in the period from 1926 to 1928, vestiges of more or less recognisable forms are retained. In the foreground of Old horizon, for instance, a floating amoebic ribbon terminates in two breasts, one spurting white, the other black droplets.
Michael Lloyd & Michael Desmond European and American Paintings and Sculptures 1870-1970 in the Australian National Gallery 1992 p.182.
- André Breton, 'What Tanguy Veils and Reveals', View, vol. 2, no. 2, May 1942, pp.4-7, p.7.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010