Modern and Contemporary Art
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
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Artist: Yves Tanguy, American, born France, 1900–1955

Plusieurs ont vécu (Many Have Lived)

1939

Oil on canvas

framed: 84.5 x 69 x 10.5 cm (33 1/4 x 27 3/16 x 4 1/8 in.) 70.5 x 55 x 2.5 cm (27 3/4 x 21 5/8 x 1 in.)
Gift of Thomas F. Howard
1956.46.1
Yves Tanguy painted Plusieurs ont vécu shortly before he immigrated to the United States. The canvas depicts a deserted landscape populated by several colorful biomorphic forms. The scene induces a sentiment of isolation and melancholy, reinforced by the lack of horizon and the monotony of the background—except for several dark, horizontal shadows that menacingly transgress the lower half of the painting. In subsequent years, marked by the escalation of World War II, Tanguy’s surreal, almost playful biomorphic shapes of the 1930s evolved into metallic forms, culminating in the skeletal towers seen in De mains pâles aux cieux lasses (From Pale Hands to Weary Skies). The later work conveys an aura of menace through the use of a cold gray color, the sharp bleached points inserted between the other shapes, and the cropping of the foreground. Both paintings echo Tanguy’s own exile and allude to the tense geopolitical climate.
Culture: 
American
Period: 
20th century
Classification: 
Paintings
Status: 
Not on view
Provenance: 

Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York; Howard, Thomas, New York, to 1944; Thomas F. Howard, to 1956; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.

Bibliography: 

Frauke V. Josenhans et al., Artists in Exile: Expressions of Loss and Hope (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2017), 155, no. 18, ill.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.