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On display on Level 2


France 1900 – United States of America 1955

Vieil horizon [Old horizon] 1928 Place made: Paris, Île-de-France, Ville de Paris department, France
Materials & Technique: paintings, oil on canvas

Primary Insc: signed and dated l.r., oil, "YVES TANGUY 28"
Dimensions: 100.0 h x 73.0 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1983
Accession No: NGA 83.3139
Image rights: © Yves Tanguy/ARS. Licensed by Viscopy
  • the artist;
  • from whom acquired (by gift or purchase) by André Breton (1896-1966), Paris, in 1929;
  • with Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York, in 1940;
  • Mr and Mrs John Abbott, New York, in 1946;
  • re-acquired by Pierre Matisse Gallery in 1960;
  • from whom bought by the Australian National Gallery, September 1983

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.

  1. 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