I’m Waiting For You

Yves Tanguy — Je Vous Attends (I’m Waiting For You) 1934


I’m Waiting For You


“I have always been intrigued by the bizarre landscapes of the French Surrealist Yves Tanguy, paintings that demand a creative response far beyond the standard art historical entry.”
— Mr. Cake

I believe the very talented Mr. Cake to be a mixture of a modern-day André Breton and Balthus, King of Cats, with his well-read sphinxlike demeanor, impeccable eye for art, he’s also the curator of the fabulous, “Cake or Death” site, a place to find all things surreal and all things cake. He approached me to compose a piece for the above painting, Je Vous Attends (I’m Waiting for You). The painting has played such an important part in the personal mythology of Yves Tanguy and his wife, Kay Sage. My poem, Last Call Before You Go, can be found following Mr. Cake’s brief essay, The Dictates of Chance, on Tanguy, Sage and the concept of the chance encounter within Surrealist aesthetics.


The Dictates of Chance

The concept of chance was of vital importance to Surrealist aesthetics. Taking as a starting point the beautiful chance encounter of a sewing machine and an umbrella upon an operating table of the Comte De Lautreamont and Stephane Mallarme’s enigmatic dictum that ‘a throw of the dice will never abolish chance’, the Surrealists came to believe that chance was the force necessary to change art, life and indeed transform the world.

Maybe because they were finely attuned to its workings and therefore always on the look-out for its unexpected arrival that chance encounters do seem to have played a disproportionally large role in many a Surrealist biography, especially in the life and works of the two best exemplifiers of Surrealist scorched earth strangeness, Yves Tanguy and Kay Sage.

In 1923 Yves Tanguy was an ex-Merchant Seaman from Brittany leading a rather aimless Bohemian lifestyle in Paris. One day he passed a shop window displaying a painting by Giorgio De Chirico, Le Cerveau L’Enfant (The Child’s Brain). This random, chance encounter had an electrifying, galvanising effect upon Tanguy. He there and then decided to become a painter, despite the fact that he had no formal training whatsoever. It was an inspired decision. Tanguy was possessed of a unique, singular vision that defies all explanation and would greatly influence later Surrealists (especially Dali) and the Abstract Expressionists, notably Pollack and Rothko.

Tanguy’s great contribution was to paint irreal figures that are neither animal, vegetable or mineral, in a painstaking, precise naturalistic fashion, therefore adding to the illusionism of the extra-terrestrial landscapes with their depthless horizons. He would render this strange realm that could be interpenetrated as either a collective memory of the pre-organic origins of life or as a prophecy of the distant future or maybe a mental photograph of the unconscious, obsessively throughout the rest of his career.

In 1938, the wealthy American Kay Sage, who had recently, began to pursue an artistic career after the failure of her marriage visited the International Surrealist Exhibit in Galerie Beaux-Arts. She was so taken by another one of De Chirico paintings, La Surprise, that she bought it and it would remain in her possession until her death. Another painting she noticed and admired immensely was, I’m Waiting For You, by Yves Tanguy. This exposure to the works of De Chirico led Sage to change her artistic direction from semi-abstraction to Surrealism. This change of direction led to a solo exhibition that Tanguy attended and he was so moved by the paintings that he decided to seek Sage out. A meeting was arranged through mutual friends, the result of a series of chance encounters that led to their marriage in 1940 in Reno, Nevada.

They moved to Woodbury, Connecticut shortly afterwards. Their marriage was by all accounts difficult and tempestuous; however Tanguy’s death in 1955 from a stroke devastated Sage. She almost completely stopped painting her own eerie, dread-filled and depopulated surreal landscapes, instead making small sculptures out of wire and bullets.

In 1963 Kay Sage left this poignant and heart-rending suicide note: “The first painting by Yves that I saw, before I knew him, was called ‘I’m waiting for you.’ I’ve come. Now he’s waiting for me again-I’m on my way.” She shot herself through the heart. Tanguy’s friend, the art dealer and brother of Henri, Pierre Matisse scattered their mixed ashes on a beach in Tanguy’s beloved Brittany.


Last Call Before You Go

Within a blinding sanguine flash
Escaping the unbridled muzzle of destiny
I find myself riding a scorching bullet,
The train of deliverance, to a place of remains:
Human cairns, les piles de vertèbres
Unrecognizable, yet familiar skinless parts
In this: historic, prehistoric, futuristic,
Post-apocalyptic landscape
With perpetual dinner parties’
Sunsetting shadows: 7 pm
All in search of the multifaceted singular you
Chasing craggy friction, smooth from tracing
A longing desire for all your bigness:
That which fills the heat of any room,
Your fanfare flames a come-hither awareness:
Clarity: the drive for scorn
Perfection that leads me here
I sense your startling presence
Larger than life, surrounding, smothering
A gyration of hovering stillness
With its annihilating posture: verbal trysts
Cruelty and misunderstandings
The heaven on earth I cannot live without
Effortless drunken brush strokes
Wire and bullets, forever holding us together
Alas, I have found you: a gaping hole of loss
Collecting plundered eons
And inconsequential landmarks:
The keys to nothing — home to everything


Copyright © 2018 Mia Pharaoh. All rights reserved.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

80 thoughts on “I’m Waiting For You

  1. Fantastic post, Mia. It’s been a long, long time since I thought about the work of either artist. I’m more familiar with Kay Sage. The psyches of so many brilliant artists are so complex that they break much too easily.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Tim. The credit for this post belongs to Mr. Cake, I think he had a brilliant idea to combine the various mediums to recognize the artists, Yves Tanguy and Kate Sage, as well as their art. I love the haunting barren landscapes that Kate Sage was able to produce, often they remind me of ‘after the blast’. Absolutely, “so complex” and fragile, so much so that, “they break much too easily”. Thankfully they leave us their artwork, quite a legacy.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Two amazing artists. This was such a love story. And shows how well art and literature and poetry and well… everything artistic connect and integrate. Your poem is a story in verse, beautifully written. It ties together the essay and the painting so well! 💜

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Meg, for your wonderful comment. Agreed, both are amazing artist, together another surreal power couple. It appears that love transcends death, as long as you have the will to make that leap. I’m really pleased that you enjoyed the poem, it was a bit of a leap for me. 😉 I hope your week is off to a good start, enjoy your Monday! 💗

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I got a random ‘Things The Other Side of the Horizon’ from the painting. Also a sort of ‘Things caring for ear lobes’ but that’s irrelevant. You’ve really got to see in your head and keep in your head the ‘chance’ factor as a painter? You could almost say a photographer has it a bit easier when ‘chance’ comes along? ‘Last Call Before You Go’ is brilliant, like a bookshelf of title spines all in a row, laid out next to each other by a librarian who knew what she was doing. A shame about the suicide. Lovers of art and artists are drawn to it like magnets. It has to be done. It’s a bit of a special post you have here, PM.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, JGC, for a terrific comment along your random thought, which is brilliant, so very insightful and relevant. When I read, ‘Things The Other Side of the Horizon’, it clicked, instantly reminding me of a similar idea, what’s on the other side of the mirror? An entire other world, in fact it’s otherworldly. Chance seems to play well into, ‘Things The Other Side of the Horizon’ as its major component is the unknown. I’m very happy that you like the poem, I was hopeful that I was able to do justice to the painting as well as Mr. Cake’s essay. Heartbreaking and tragic end for many artists, setting their own departure. Thank you again, JGC. Enjoy the rest of your day. ~ PM

      Liked by 1 person

          1. The net plays funny in Wallonie where every word begins with ‘Z’ and has 72 syllables. I can like things, that’s about all. I am guessing this might find a home. Odd. I’m going to see a caged shark in a glass prison tommorow. Should be interesting. At least I’m up and running. It’s so hot and the language is part French part German. In shops I just smile and point. Seems to work. Anyway, more info on the way. I spent an hour photographing pavements today. Enjoy you day.- JGC

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Hi JGC, funny, “every word begins with ‘Z’ and has 72 syllables” a post in the making. I agree, odd, a caged shark. Why do I think that seems out of place and surreal. Have fun, I feel sort of sorry for the shark. Glad the “smile and point” is working, maybe you can use that in the post office when you get home. Looking forward to seeing the pavement photos. Stay cool, enjoy your evening and have a terrific Sunday. ~ PM


  4. Mia this a wonderful presentation finalized by your own words to accompany such breathtaking creation. Death is nothing compared to the depth of a mind… Have a wonderful day Mia ♥

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Hector, for a lovely and thought-provoking comment. I think Mr. Cake had a brilliant idea to combine a painting, essay and poem to create a tribute to the artists, Yves Tanguy and Kate Sage. And in death, does the mind cease to exist? Wishing you a wonderful Tuesday! ~ Mia 💗

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Andrew, the tragic tales seem to move me and touch my heart in a way that happy tales never do, plus the tragic tales are far more memorable, at least for me. Thank you for you kind words, please enjoy the rest of your week, wishing you well. ~ Mia

      Liked by 2 people

    1. David, thank you! I adore Picasso. I think of his words often, especially the following:

      “There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into sun”
      ― Pablo Picasso

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Mia, if you ever get to Barcelona
        you must visit the Picasso Museum.
        But not during tourist season.
        And don’t stroll La Rambla
        when hate is in the air.
        I went to Spain to meet Salvador,
        and found Pablo waiting there.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. There is a definite ressemblance to some of Dali’s work. Now who influenced whom? I couldn’t tell. I guess one would have to compare dates. I find those days refreshing, when as the impressionists, most of those artists “shared” their work with one another. They were not as competitive as some may be today. I think. It is very clear when you look at the impressionists how they all “influenced” each other.
        Tanguy’s work is interesting. I’ll see if I can find a book in Paris next summer. Thank you for the introduction Mia.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Dali remarked to Tanguy’s niece that owed his horizons to her uncle or words to that effect. Surrealism was very much a collaborative movement, though Andre Breton had absolute say on who was or wasn’t part of the movement.

          Liked by 2 people

  5. Mia, you’d do wonders as a professor of arts ~ I’ve not heard of Yves Tanguy before, but after this post I feel I have a better understanding of him and ‘I’m waiting for you’ than many of the novelists I think I know well through their works. The last words of Sage are heartbreaking yet conversely, make the heart beat stronger to hear them. A perfect summary, “Alas, I have found you: a gaping hole of loss…”
    Wish you a great day, take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Randall, thank you so much, and such a fun idea. Mr. Cake wrote a brilliant brief essay on Tanguy, Sage and the painting, I’m Waiting For You, which helped to make my part of the collaboration much easier, having a better understanding of these two artists. The works of both, Yves Tanguy and his wife, Kate Sage, are wonderful frozen in time barren otherworldly after the button’s been pushed landscapes. Kate’s final words haunt and linger, yet the words refused to be dismissed for the love and longing they contain. I’m pleased you found my words worked, it truly is “a gaping hole of loss”. Wishing you a great day too, enjoy the rest of your week, and take good care. ~ Mia


      1. It is a powerful story, and as you say, “Kate’s final words haunt and linger.” Her words evict a strange sense of envy with me (in a positive sense) as she has expressed the love and longing she felt…with such devotion. Wish you a great weekend, Mia. Take care.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Eugenia, for such a lovely comment. Mr. Cake has an exquisite eye for art, it was a pleasure to work along with him to create this post, it was exciting to feature two artists with remarkable talent, and look at the life they shared. I’m pleased that everything came together so well, and that you enjoyed our joint effort. I hope the week has been good to you so far, please enjoy your Tuesday. ~ Mia

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Mia, Kudos’s to both yourself and Mr. Cake on an outstanding collaboration. I must confess my knowledge of art is somewhat limited but I do know what I like, and being that I find myself in a surreal world most times, it would come to reason I would enjoy this painting. Your accompanying words relay so much to me I have read them more than once, with my favorite line being, “Clarity: the drive for scorn:”. That my friend belongs on heavens blog. 😉 Thank you once again for letting me be a part of this drive, and as always I wish you a pleasant evening. Daniel

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Mia,

    A setting so distant from what I know this painting plunges me into loneliness, perhaps that’s what inspired your poetic lines,
    A longing desire for all your bigness:
    That which fills the heat of any room…

    What an interesting and yet sad story Mr. Cake reveals to us about the artists. Thank you for sharing this post, your poem, and for your visit. Have a good day!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Cathy, I agree the landscape is barren and void of life as we know it. I see an enormous emptiness which brings to mind a great deal of sadness. I believe your right about the lines, it’s looking for the familiar to fill the nothingness. Mr. Cake does a wonderful job with his essays, I always learn so much. Thank you for your kindness and wonderful comment. Wishing you a good day too! ~ Mia

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This is amazing Mia, both the essay and your poem. I feel so bad for this woman, that she missed her husband so much, she committed suicide to be with him. I enjoyed many lines these ones struck me “I sense your startling presence
    Larger than life, surrounding, smothering
    A gyration of hovering stillness.”

    Like Kate feels that in death she can reach her husband, the famous painter, and be with him again, despite his flaws and their sometimes troubled marriage. He’s her “Heaven on earth” that she “can’t live without” and you beautifully describe that throughout the poem. That he gave her life meaning. And that whatever his “smothering” he was also a calm and comfort in “hovering stillness.” Enjoy your week Mia 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Amanda, thank you so much for this lovely comment. I couldn’t have written my poem without Mr. Cake’s brilliant essay. The Surrealists certainly lived for chance. Kate’s death is tragic, she did miss Yves horrible, “a gaping hole of loss”. Kate was a tremendous artist as well, if you haven’t seen her work here’s a link to some of her famous pieces. I hope you enjoy her paintings. https://www.wikiart.org/en/kay-sage

      Wishing you a terrific Tuesday, may it be filled with much inspiration and creativity. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I hope your weekend is as you wish.
        I wish you a wonderful Sunday full of sun and love for you.
        I think of you, take care of my dear friend
        Love you ❤

        Soul, xo

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Dearest Soul, thank you for the smile. I think of you often when the sun out and there is a gentle breeze in the garden, it’s really lovely. I hope your weekend has been peaceful and relaxing, maybe even a bit lazy. Love you. ❤ xo

          Liked by 1 person

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