The Surrealist Painting That Survived A Fascist Attack

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Yves Tanguy “Garden Scam” (1930). The painting was restored to hide the damage to the canvas caused by the attack on the Paris cinema in 1930 (courtesy of Becca Pollak).

The painting by French surrealist Yves Tanguy, which was supposed to be lost forever in a fascist attack on a Parisian cinema in 1930, has been completely restored.

December 30th night, In 1930, the Ligue des Patriotes and the French Anti-Semitic Federation, members of the far-right group, attacked Studio 28, an art house theater in the artist district of Montmartre, Paris. Together with other works by Salvador Dali, Man Ray and Joan Miró, they slammed Tanguy’s 1930 masterpiece “Garden Scam” in the cinema lobby.

Radical group resented at Luis Buñuel’s screening L’Age d’Or (1930), an avant-garde comedy that satirizes the hypocrisy of bourgeois society and the sexual practices of the Catholic Church.Buñuel’s surrealist film, co-written with Dali, was full of blasphemous and erotic images, including sequences based on Marquis de Sade’s novels. 120 days of Sodom Featuring Jesus as a bloodthirsty sadist.

The perpetrator shouted, “I will show you that there are still Christians in France!” And “Death of the Jews!” A few days later, pressure from the French right-wing newspaper banned the film. Guardian report.

Tanguy’s “Garden Scam” was left behind along with other works damaged during the attack. (Courtesy: Charles Stuckey)

For decades, Dali’s “Invisible Sleeping Woman, Horse, Lion” (1930), now suspended at the Pompidou Center in Paris, was believed to be the only work of art that survived the attack. .. According to Jennifer Mas, a professor of cultural heritage science at the Bird Graduate Center, when Tanguy’s paintings resurfaced in recent years, when they confused experts who first suspected that it was a copy of the destroyed work. That has changed.

“It looked like it was in perfect condition,” Misa, who certified the painting, told Hyperallergic in an interview.

Misa, who also directs the Scientific Analysis of Fine Art, a private consultant, examined the paintings at the request of art historian Charles Stucky, who worked on Tanguy. Catalog raisonne With researcher Steven Mack.

According to Mass, an anonymous French collector bought Tanguy at an auction in 1985. It may be the original painting of Studio 28. However, its pristine condition continued to raise suspicions that it was the work of a counterfeiter.

The first UV test Misa performed with her colleague Becca Pollack showed signs of recovery, including new backgrounds painted around some of the original figures in the painting. X-ray images then revealed hidden scratches on the canvas that were severely cut off during the 1930 attack.

X-ray images show long scars in the lower half of Tanguy’s 1930 “Garden Scam” (courtesy of Becca Pollak, Satoko Tanimoto).

“We were able to show the original damage done to the work in 1930 and how the restorer painted it against the background to hide the true state of the work,” Mass said. increase.

Scientists explained that a large crevice in the lower half of the painting was sewn, painted over, supported by a second layer of canvas, and ultimately “almost invisible” to the naked eye.

However, Mass suggests that the restoration work done on the painting may have been too successful.

“We don’t want this kind of experienced painting to look pristine,” she explained. “We want them to have some evidence of their biography, which is especially important for paintings that have withstood the attack of iconoclasm.”

Mass added that the late comeback of Tanguy’s paintings holds a valuable historical lesson for us today in the face of the astonishing rise of neo-fascist and anti-Semitic groups throughout the United States and Europe. rice field.

“People who remember the devastation these philosophies brought about in Europe in the early 20th century are alive today, and very many young people are becoming hated of belonging,” she said. “Success L’Age d’Or The far-right provocation reveals the power of artwork as an agent of protest, and the re-emergence of Tanguy’s “garden fraud” is the perpetuation of artists who use their work to reveal the rise of society. The most malicious political forces that speak for themselves. ”

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