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Fanny Brennan

"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

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 existed 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 Café de Flore, where she taught Picasso to play Chinese c 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 Brennan 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 small gessoed composition boards—each one usually taking one month to complete. Each of these lithographs is made in the traditional manner with all color plates created by hand.