A Mythical World
“At the Atelier Art et Jeunesse they were always trying to get me to fill the entire page of drawing paper. I only wanted to make very, very small pictures”— Fanny Brennan
Fanny Brennan's innovative approach to painting is immediately clear in the small size of her work, which never exceeds a few inches square. These tiny pictures are filled with humor and, in meticulous detail, present playful images of a mythical world that exists only in her imagination.
As an American student in Paris, Fanny was an independent soul. "At the Atelier Art et Jeunesse," she says, they were always trying to get me to fill the entire page of drawing paper. I only wanted to make very, very small pictures." Defying the fashion of the day, she refused to wear a hat and probably spent too much time at the Cafe de Flore, where she taught Picasso to play Chinese Checkers and rubbed peanut shells into Giacometti's hair. She was asked to leave her all-girl boarding house after calling the ornery concierge a "cow."
Escaping France on the eve of World War II, Fanny returned to the United States where she took an "internship of sorts" with Harper's Bazaar and later a job with the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Then, in the early 1940s, Fanny took an overseas position with the Office of War Information in London, where she met her husband. After taking a hiatus from brushes for more than twenty years, during which time she raised a family and lived abroad and in the United States, she returned to painting in the 1970s.
Since then, Fanny has painted more than 300 images on small gessoed composition boards—each one usually taking one month to complete. A charter member of "Who's Who in American Art" her originals have been exhibited in galleries across the USA. She has also received awards from Time Inc., The Art Directors Club and the Museum of Modern Art. Each of these lithographs is made in the traditional manner with all color plates created by hand.
Fanny Brennan, Surrealist, 80; Lived in Paris
By HOLLAND COTTER
Published: July 31, 2001
Fanny Brennan, an American painter of small, meticulously executed surrealist still lifes, who spent her childhood in the legendary circle of artists and writers gathered around Sara and Gerald Murphy in Paris, died on July 22 at a hospital in Manhattan. She was 80.
Ms. Brennan was born in 1921 in Paris, where her parents, Richard and Alice Lee Myers, were well-known figures in the city's expatriate art community. The Murphys were close family friends. Educated in Europe and the United States, she enrolled in art school in Paris in 1938, met Tristan Tzara, had her portrait drawn by Giacometti and taught Picasso how to play Chinese checkers at the Cafe Flore.
When war broke out, she left for New York, where she worked for Harpers Bazaar and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 1944, she was hired by the Office of War Information to work in Europe. She married the chief of its graphics and exhibitions division, Francis Brennan, in 1946.