On Tuesday October 3rd, Lawrence Schwartzwald was on hand to take pictures in the Celeste Bartos Forum at MoMA, prior to the arrival of the substantial audience that gathered to celebrate Dorothea Tanning's life as an artist and poet.
Last week marked the publication of Tanning's second book of poems, Coming to That, following her 101st birthday this past August 25th. (The book is reviewed by Dan Chiasson in this week's issue of The New Yorker, dated October 17th.)
The photograph of Tanning and her husband Max Ernst (projected on the screen) was taken by Irving Penn in 1947. It was one of many beautiful images projected on the screen throughout the evening, beginning with photographs of Tanning as a baby, sprinting through her six decades of art-making, house-building, and life with Ernst, and culminating with riveting pictures taken since she began to publish poems in her late 80s. (Many of the photographs were taken by giants in the field, including Lee Miller, Man Ray, and Henri Cartier-Bresson.)
The evening was introduced by remarks from Tree Swenson and myself, by Robin Metz of Knox College, who announced that Galesburg, Illinois has instituted an annual Dorothea Tanning Day to honor her, and by Ann Temkin, Chief Curator at MoMa, who spoke of Tanning's distinguished place in Twentieth Century art, and of how unusual it is for an artist to be equally gifted as a poet.
The poets, friends and admirers of Dorothea's read favorite poems from both of her collections, and the evening also featured a video clip of Rosanna Warren, an homage to the bond that has flourished between Dorothea Tanning and three generations of the Warren clan. Her daughter Katherine then read one of her favorite Tanning poems, "Interval with Kook." Afterwards, many copies of Tanning's books of poems could be spotted under arms and umbrellas as people dashed home in the light rain.
* * *
David Alexander and Richard Howard.
Mark Strand, Richard Howard, David Alexander, and J. D. McClatchy.
J. D. McClatchy
Mimi Johnson (Dorothea Tanning's niece) and Alice Quinn
From Left to Right, Richard Howard, Tree Swenson, J. D. McClatchy, Brenda Shaughnessy, Mark Strand, Katherine Scully, Ann Temkin, and Alice Quinn.
* * *
The event was sponsored by the Academy of America Poets and the Poetry Society of America, in conjunction with Graywolf Press.