Well, excuse me for this, but “Birthday” is among other dreamlike things, a topless self-portrait. Is it fair to say that at that time, 1942, people thought you were immodest?
Well, I was aware it was pretty daring, but that’s not why I did it. It was a kind of a statement, wanting the utter truth, and bareness was necessary. My breasts didn’t amount to much. Quite unremarkable. And besides, when you are feeling very solemn and painting very intensively, you think only of what you are trying to communicate.
So what have you tried to communicate as an artist? What were your goals, and have you achieved them?
I’d be satisfied with having suggested that there is more than meets the eye.
― Dorothea Tanning in an interview for Salon, in 2002
Birthday by Dorothea Tanning, 1942