Sunday, September 27, 2015

"I’m on my way.": Kay Sage (1898-1963) by Priscilla Frank

Sage was born to a wealthy New York family and, after her parents separated, moved to Italy with her mother. It wasn't until the late 1930s, after she had married and divorced a young Italian nobleman, that Sage discovered her passion for surrealist art.

"I call Kay Sage a surrealist because her painting resonates with the unsettling paradoxes and hallucinatory qualities prized by André Breton and his group," her biographer Judith D. Suther wrote. "More fundamentally, I call Sage a surrealist because her allegiance to the surrealist identity lies at the heart of her self-image as an artist."

Kay Sage, "Le Passage" 1956

Sage's works are architectural, centered around the shadows and folds of various materials and "imbued with an aura of purified form and a sense of motionlessness and impending doom found nowhere else in surrealism," art historian Whitney Chadwick expressed.

Sage wed fellow surrealist artist Yves Tanguy in 1940, and the two endured a passionate and sometimes volatile partnership. "Yves was my only friend who understood everything," she said following his death. The artist stopped making work following Tanguy's death, in part due to cataracts that affected her vision, and committed suicide in 1963. Her suicide note read: "The first painting by Yves that I saw, before I knew him, was called ‘I’m Waiting for You.’ I’ve come. Now he’s waiting for me again -- I’m on my way."

Kay Sage and Yves Tanguy, here shot for Time magazine on the occasion of their joint exhibition at the Wadsworth Atheneum in 1954.

The names most often associated with surrealism, the avant-garde cultural movement born in the 1920s, include Max Ernst, Salvador Dalí, Man Ray, Hans Arp, Marcel Duchamp and Yves Tanguy, among others.

Surprise, surprise, they're all men. 

Thankfully, Sotheby's is now hoping to illuminate the many women artists who deserve equal recognition, those who also expressed the convoluted details of their interior worlds with sharp lines and bold colors. The upcoming exhibition "Cherchez la Femme: Women and Surrealism" will feature more well-known names like Frida Kahlo and Leonora Carrington, along with many even surrealist buffs may not recognize.

"A lot of it is still fairly unknown to the general public, even to surrealism enthusiasts," Julian Dawes, a Sotheby’s vice president who organized the show, explained to The New York Times. "Male surrealists look at women as objects of desire. The female surrealists sort of treat women as looking inward."

by Priscilla Frank, excerpt from 7 Forgotten Women Surrealists Who Deserve To Be Remembered

Shared with permission of the author.

You can read more about the artist here.

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