Mel and Dorothy Tanner Wikipedia Article

Mel and Dorothy Tanner

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Dorothy Tanner
Dorothy Tanner looking at the light sculpture, Logo, by Dorothy and Mel Tanner.jpg
Born January 30, 1923
The Bronx, New York
Nationality American
Occupation Light Artist/Installation Artist
Known for Lumonics Installations

Signature of Dorothy Tanner


Mel Tanner
Mel Tanner (1973).jpg
Born September 26, 1925
Brooklyn, New York
Died October 21, 1993
Coral Springs, Florida
Nationality American
Occupation Light Artist/Installation Artist
Known for Lumonics Installations

Signature of Mel Tanner

Dorothy Tanner (born January 30, 1923) is an American light sculptorinstallation artistmusicianvideographer, and spoken word artist based in DenverColorado. Her husband Mel Tanner (September 26, 1925 – October 21, 1993) was an American light sculptorpainterinstallation artist, and videographer. The couple worked very closely for over 40 years. Their main project was the creation of Lumonics [1] that consists of their light sculptures, live projection, video, electronics and music as a total art installation. Author and art historian, Michael Betancourt described this conceptual art as a Gesamtkunstwerk in his book, The Lumonics Theater: The Art of Mel & Dorothy Tanner, published in 2005.[2]


Dorothy Tanner studied woodcarving with Chaim Gross at the Educational Alliancesculpture with Aaron Goodleman at the Jefferson School of Social Sciencelife drawing with Gabor Peterdi and sculpture with Milton Hebald at the Brooklyn Museum School of Art. She met Mel Tanner while they were both students at the Brooklyn Museum School, and married in 1951.

Mel Tanner was a World War II veteran and attended art school under the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, better known as the G.I. Bill. He attended Pratt Institute, the Art Students League of New York, and studied painting at the Brooklyn Museum School with Max BeckmannJohn Ferren, and Reuben Tam.

Career in art (1951-1969)

The Tanners moved to Syracuse, New York in 1951 and founded the Syracuse Art Workshop where Dorothy taught sculpture and Mel taught painting.[3] They taught art to children in a summer program at Syracuse University. The residence in Syracuse had a carriage house in the rear where Dorothy set up her studio, working with materials including woodclayplaster, and polyester, and the high ceilings enabled her to build large metal sculptures. She exhibited her new metal sculptures in a solo show at the Key Gallery in New York City in 1962, and Mel Tanner exhibited his new paintings which combined calligraphy and geometric shapes at Key that same year. Their exhibitions stimulated them to return to Manhattan. Decades later, Ms.Tanner reflected on her view of the New York art of the early 1960s:

“The art scene in New York was in turmoil. Abstract expressionism was in the late days of its heyday. Op and pop art were coming up strong, and minimalism was just around the corner.”[4]


In 1963, the Tanners returned to New York City, where they founded Granite Gallery, an artist cooperative. They formed the Granite Art Association, which organized seminars, forums, and exhibitions, including The New Face in Art Forum and Exhibition in 1964 which took place at the Loeb Student Center at New York University.[5] Participants included artists Louise NevelsonRed Grooms, Norman Carton, and art critic Gordon Brown.[6] The Tanners co-curated The New Face in Art Exhibition and showed their work with artists that included Louis SchankerMurray Hantman, and Leo Quanchi. In 1965, they closed the Gallery and traveled extensively in Europe.


April, 12, 2018: The Mel and Dorothy Tanner Wikipedia article received the Original Barnstar, “given to recognize particularly fine contributions to Wikipedia, and to let people know that their hard work is seen and appreciated.”