Yves Tanguy was born on January 5, 1900 in Paris, France, the son of a retired Navy captain. After his father's death, Tanguy’s mother returned to her native Locronan, Finistère leaving Tanguy to spend much of his childhood with various relatives.
In 1922, at the end of his military service in the merchant navy, where he befriended Jacque Prévert, Tanguy returned to Paris. Here, he was influenced by the magazine The Surréaliste Revolution and the paintings of artist Giorgio de Chirico, as well as life on Boulevard Montparnasse where he and Prévert spent much of their time. Through Prévert, Tanguy was introduced to André Breton and the circle of Surrealist artists.
Although he had no formal training, Tanguy quickly developed his own style of painting, establishing himself within the artistic movement. Tanguy’s style of nonrepresentational surrealism is unique and immediately recognizable. His canvases show vast abstract landscapes, devoid of human elements.
In 1938, Tanguy met the American artist Kay Sage with whom he began a relationship. Tanguy and Sage returned to the United States because of the outbreak of World War II. They married in Reno, Nevada on August 17, 1940. The couple eventually moved to Woodbury, Connecticut where Tanguy converted an old barn into his studio.
Yves Tanguy died January 15, 1955 of a brain hemorrhage. After the completion of Tanguy’s Catalog Raisoné of painted works, Kay Sage committed suicide on January 8, 1963. According to their wishes, longtime friend and art dealer Pierre Matisse scattered their ashes in Douarnenez’s Bay in Brittany, France.