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A House of Her Own: Kay Sage, Solitary Surrealist Hardcover – 1 Jun 1997
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"A House of Her Own" is the first full-length biography of the American Surrealist painter Kay Sage. Born in 1898 to wealthy American parents in upstate New York, Sage spent most of her childhood and young adult years in Italy and France. In 1937 she moved to Paris, where she became a member of the Surrealist group surrounding Andre Breton. She returned to the United States in 1940, settling in Woodbury, Connecticut. Her most productive years as an artist extended from roughly 1938 through the late 1950s, when her health began to deteriorate, and she withdrew gradually from social contact. She stopped working on her oil paintings in 1958, but continued to forge her increasingly nihilistic poems until she shot herself in the heart in January 1963. Along with her eloquent chronicle of Sage's life, Judith D. Suther presents subtle, revelatory views of Sage's artistic accomplishments. She takes us into the artist's elegant, dreamlike paintings, connecting them to Sage's complex inner life, and to the artistic and intellectual worlds in which she moved.Suther also shows how the raw language and iconoclastic themes of Sage's poetic works were related to Sage's lifelong revolt against social and artistic convention. Judith D. Suther is a professor of French and comparative literature at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. She is the author of "Raissa Maritain: Pilgrim, Poet, Exile".
About the Author
Judith D. Suther is a professor of French and comparative literature at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. She is the author of Raissa Maritain, Pilgrim, Poet, Exile.
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The book has several illustrations of paintings, drawings, and early photos including interior/exterior photos of the home Sage and Tanguy shared in Woodbury, Connecticut.
For the Tanguy fans out there, this is a 'must read' book. Anyone that has sought out literature on the life of Yves Tanguy knows there isn't much to be found. A House Of Her Own reveals many details of a well-researched and authored biographer in Judith D. Suther.
If, on the other hand, you're into art, and are not put off by surrealism, then you'll probably like this book a lot. I did. It's well represented by:
A) Presenting a passable biography of artist Kay Sage.
B) Presenting a passable psycho-analysis of Kay Sage's art.
C) Exploring contemporary feminist issues in the context of an early 20th century woman artist, who achieved some acclaim in a predominately male dominated art world.
D) Presenting fairly legible B&W and color plates of Sage's interesting art.
E) Presenting a passable history and definition of the surrealist school of art, and its transalantic American shift during WWII.
These aspects, not necessarily in this order, made the book enjoyable. Admittedly, I paint, and I place substantial significance on the philosophy of art, especially on the sub-category surrealism. On the one extreme, if you are oriented toward these criteria, this book is highly recommended; on the other, it might be an interesting read about an obscure early 20th century senator's daughter turned princess turned surrealist artist. The fact that Sage drilled her heart out with a pearl handled .32 at the bitter end lends a Hemingway-esque twist to this pseudo-lonely artist's tale; she apparently was a brassy broad inside (revealed in her poetry, which is also showcased in the book), with the exterior of fine French antique: which Sage was not, she was a good to great American artist, an individualist, and a pioneer (of herself, as well as her genre of art). Some of her finest works look frankly into the abyss.
In the final analysis, what kind of artist Sage was is ambiguous. She was a surrealist, yet she wasn't quite. She followed this school of art, yet created her own trademark icons. She really seemed to create a unique niche of her own within a genre. There's an enigma here that isn't easily defined. Were her works powerful, or subtle? That's up to the interpreter to decide.