Katonah, New York.- The Katonah Museum of Art takes visitors on a journey through the subconscious as it presents “Double Solitaire: The Surreal Worlds of Kay Sage and Yves Tanguy” from June 5 through September 18, 2011. Organized in partnership with the Mint Museum of Art in Charlotte, North Carolina, “Double Solitaire” is the first major touring exhibition to explore the dynamic exchange of ideas that shaped the astonishing landscapes of these Surrealist artists and to reveal, in particular, Sage’s influence on Tanguy’s later work.
Double Solitaire features approximately 25 paintings by each artist, dating from 1937 to 1958, as well as selected ephemera, providing a window into the couple’s personal lives. Sage and Tanguy were inseparable throughout their 15-year marriage, sharing a studio in Woodbury, Connecticut and communicating only in French until Tanguy’s untimely death in 1955. Both artists sought to create paintings that the French poet André Breton called “peinture-poésie,” a style influenced by poetry and dream-like imagery. However, in spite of their intimacy, the two artists never wanted to be considered a “team of painters.” With the condition that they be placed in separate galleries, a 1954 exhibition at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut, was the closest their works ever came to being shown together.
Initially, Tanguy’s influence on Sage was stronger, as she was just beginning to paint professionally when they met. His paintings from the early 1940s initiate a new direction in her work, a turn towards the geometric imagery that became the hallmark of her mature style. But Sage’s art also affected Tanguy’s, something that has heretofore gone unrecognized. Distinct changes in Tanguy’s paintings—including shifts in compositional strategies, the adoption of a muted color palette, and the introduction of a dominant “figure”—came directly from working in close proximity to his wife. The “Double Solitaire” exhibition is divided into three primary themes: The art each produced when Tanguy was already an established member of the Surrealist movement and Sage was first entering the group’s orbit; the numerous ways in which each influenced the other’s compositions, motifs and subject matter while living and working together in the United States; and an examination of their art’s personal and social influence, including the impact that Tanguy’s death had upon Sage and her later work. “This is a wonderful opportunity for us on so many levels. It’s been a long time since either of these important artist has had a major exhibition.
Through the generosity of our lenders, we’ve been able to bring together many of their finest paintings. By examining the works side-by-side for the first time ever, visitors will come away with a new appreciation of the intimacy of their professional and personal relationships,” said Nancy Wallach, Director of Curatorial Affairs. Double Solitaire: The Surrealist Worlds of Kay Sage and Yves Tanguy is curated by Stephen Robseon Miller and Jonathan Stuhlman, two of the country’s foremost scholars of Surrealism. Miller, an independent curator and art historian, has assembled an archive containing thousands of documents chronicling the lives of the two artists and is in the final stages of a book on Sage, which will be published in the Summer 2011. Stuhlman, Curator of American Art at The Mint Museum, is currently developing a three-part project on Surrealism of which this exhibition is the centerpiece. He is a doctoral candidate at the University of Virginia where his research focus is Yves Tanguy.
Yves Tanguy was born in Paris on January 5th 1900 and spent much of his childhood on the Brittany coast at Locronon, whose landscape was comprised of the prehistoric Celtic rock formations which were of great influence to his painting. As a teenager he moved to Paris, where he entered Secondary School at Lycée Montaigne in 1912 and further pursued his studies at Lycée St Louis. Greatly affected and discouraged by World War I and the disappearance of his beloved brother Henri, he took to alcohol and the bohemian life. When in 1916 his mother retired at the Prieuré, an ancient house in Locronan, Yves remained in Paris on Coëtlogon street in the Sixth Arrondissement, under the supervision of his sister Emilie, a teacher. It was Tanguy’s desert-like scenes, melding the land and sky which Andre Breton saw as the most poetic of Surrealist painting. Kay Sage (1898-1963), was born in upstate New York to an upper class East Coast family and raised in Italy, began painting professionally in the mid-1930s. After a bumpy youth spent in Europe and the USA, a first unhappy marriage to an Italian prince, she met Yves in Europe just before WW II and convinced him to join her in New York. She created what is considered by many as the most geometrically-oriented imagery in Surrealism. Tanguy was among several French artists for whom Sage arranged refuge in the United States following the outbreak of World War II. The couple settled in Woodbury, Connecticut where each one had their own studio. Badly affected by the sudden death of Yves in 1955, Kay went blind, little by little, but nevertheless did finish the Complete Catalogue of Yves’ work before committing suicide in 1963.
Accredited by the American Association of Museums, the Katonah Museum of Art originates ten to twelve exhibitions annually, covering a broad range of art and humanities topics. As a non-collecting Museum, the KMA has the opportunity to develop an aspect of art historical concern from a focused and original point of view, and presents it within a fully developed educational context. Committed to making itself accessible and relevant to its community, the Museum offers lectures, symposia, films, workshops, concerts and other events for a general audience; and presents innovative and substantive programs for its member schools. The Children’s Learning Center, which is open to the public free of charge, is the only interactive space in the community where children can come on a daily basis to explore, interpret, and create art. The Katonah Museum of Art serves a primary population of 850,000, with an annual attendance of approximately 40,000 people. Visit the museum’s website at … www.katonahmuseum.org