|Lee Miller, Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning|
At first was only one Picture, a self-portrait. It was a modest canvas by present day standards. But it filled my New York studio, the apartment’s back room, as if it had always been there. For one thing, it was the room, I had been struck, one day, by a fascinating array of doors ─ hall, kitchen, bathroom, studio ─ crowed together, soliciting my attention with their antic plants, light, shadows, imminent openings and shuttings. From there it was a easy leap to dream of countless doors. Perhaps in a way it was a talisman for the things that were hapening, an interaction of quiet event, line densities wrought in a crystal paperweight of time where nothing was expeted to appear except the finished canvas and, later a few snowflakes, for the season was Christmas1942, and Max was my Christmas present.
It was snowing hard when he rang my doorbell. Choosing pictures for a show to be called "Thirty Women." (...) We moved to the studio, a livelier place in any case in any case, and there on an easel was my self-portrait, not quite finished. He looked, while I tried not to. At last, "What do you call it?" I really haven't a title. "Then you can call it 'Birthday.'" Just like that. He had come to stay. That we were both painters, visionaries, did not strike me at the time as anything but the happiest of coincidences. It was so unbelievable, I told myself, "Yes. If it only lasts three weeks, it is still alright."
Dorothea Tanning, Birthday, (Santa Monica, San Francisco, The Lapis Press, 1986), p.14.