Monday, March 3

Kay Sage

Happy Women's History month! In honor of this I've decided to highlight a few women artists that rarely receive recognition. Today I've chosen Kay Sage, born 'Katherine Linn Sage' on June 25, 1898 in Albany, New York. She spent her childhood traveling Europe with her mother, and married an Italian prince. In 1937 she divorced the prince and moved to Paris where she met the Surrealists; falling madly in love with Yves Tanguy. Despite the fact that most of the big names in Surrealism are men; Salvador Dali, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Andre Breton, René Magritte, and Yves Tanguy. There were actually many female artists involved in the movement. It's not that surprising that Kay Sage has been somewhat forgotten by history though; there are countless cases of female artists whose work is over shadowed by their talented loved ones. A couple examples are Lee Krasner who was married to Jackson Pollock and spent more time trying to advance his career, and save him from his alcoholism, than she spent on her own work. Or Artemisia Gentileschi, an early Baroque painter, whose father actually tried to claim her work as his own. Linda Nochlin is credited with the most comprehensive investigation of this problem in her 1971 essay "Why are there no great women artists?". It's an intriguing issue, but also one that I won't go into too much detail about here because Nochlin covers it quite well, and to paraphrase her words may tread too closely on plagiarism; follow the link if you want to read more.

My main interest is to show some work that you might be unaware of. So here she is, Kay Sage; I'm especially fond of the juxtaposition of textures in her work; soft forms draped over hard architecture. There is an emotional loneliness conveyed in the vast, awkward, spaces of her paintings. One of her biographers considers this a result of how she felt towards the Surrealists; united in aesthetics but seperate in artistic intention. She painted most of her work during World War II, you can see the emotional uncertainty and estrangement quite clearly. While the other Surrealists often left their work open to interpretation, Sage had a very specific purpose of conveying the emotional landscape of a world at war.

1 comment:

yolareinaroja said...

I can see the daliniac air. Very original though.