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The Surrealist Paintings of Kay Sage and Yves Tanguy Shown Together at the Katonah Museum of Art
Kay Sage, Men Working, 1951. Oil on canvas, 45 x 35 inches. Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska, Museum Purchase, 1994.19

KATONAH, NY).- 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. The exhibition is on view 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 Museum is proud to partner with the Mint Museum to organize an exhibition as original and art historically significant as Double Solitaire. It has taken us years to bring this complex and ambitious exhibition to these three museums – the Katonah Museum of Art, the Mint Museum, and the Norton Museum of Art – and is well worth every bit of effort,” said Neil Watson, Executive Director of the KMA.

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
• 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. 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 (1900-1955) was born in Paris 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. 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), born in upstate New York and raised in Italy, began painting professionally in the mid-1930s. 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 artists were married in 1940 and spent the rest of their lives painting together in their farmhouse studio in Connecticut.

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