The Katonah Museum of Art Exhibits the Works of Surrealists Kay Sage and Yves Tanguy Together for the First Time

  • KATONAH, New York
  • /
  • May 30, 2011

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Kay Sage Small Portrait, 1950 Oil on canvas 14 ½ x 11 ½ inches
The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar Coll...

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 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. The Katonah Museum of Art is located at 134 Jay Street (Route 22) in Katonah New York. For information, please visit or call (914) 232-9555.

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. 

Yves Tanguy The Hunted Sky, 1951 Oil on canvas 39 x 32 inches The Menil Collection, Gift of François and Susan de Menil, 91-106
Photograph by Thomas Feist, © 2011 Estate of Yv...

“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 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.

About Sage and 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.

In The Project Gallery

Stephen Talasnik: Elusive Landscape, June 5–September 18
Draftsman and sculptor Stephen Talasnik creates intricate fantastical structures, inspired, in part, by the work of Surrealist artists.  Elusive Landscape presents a selection of recent pencil and ink drawings whose rich surfaces – intensely worked with a combination of traditional drawing techniques, frottage, erasure, and abrasion – are as otherworldly as Talasnik’s images.  A suspended construction in the Museum’s atrium represents the artist’s three-dimensional interpretation of a form in Yves Tanguy’s Multiplication of the Arcs, included in the exhibition.

In The Learning Center

Sarah Perry, "If...," 1995, Getty Publications, June 5 -- September 18, 2011

In her first book, “If…,” artist Sarah Perry painted twenty surrealist-inspired watercolors that will be on view in the Learning Center this summer. These fantastic images conjure up a world of limitless possibilities where anything can happen: leaves turn into green fish...cats fly about on wings...and colorful butterflies form a little girl's coat. Children will have the opportunity to create their own surreal illustration.

In The Sculpture Garden and Front Lawn

Joseph Wheelwright: Tree Figures,  June 5, 2011 – May, 2012
New England artist Joseph Wheelwright’s haunting tree figures invite a dialogue between the natural and the manmade.  Ranging up to 27 feet tall, these fantastic anthropomorphic sculptures were created from trees on Wheelwright’s land in Vermont.  Turned upside down, bifurcated trunks become legs, and roots become heads and arms. 

General Information
The Katonah Museum of Art is located at 134 Jay Street (Route 22) in Katonah, NY.  For information call 914-232-9555 or visit

Museum Hours
Tuesday through Saturday, 10am-5pm, Sunday 12-5pm, Closed Monday.
Admission: $5 general, $3 for seniors and students; members and children under 12 free.

Free Docent-Led Guided Tours
Tuesday through Saturday, 2:30 pm. Tours are free with admission to the Museum.

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(845) 528-6647

Katonah Museum of Art
134 Jay Street
Katonah, New York
(914) 232-9555
About Katonah Museum of Art

General Information The Katonah Museum of Art is located at 134 Jay Street (Route 22) in Katonah, NY.  For information call 914-232-9555 or visit Directions By Train: From Grand Central Terminal (Harlem Division of Metro North):  The Katonah Museum of Art is located 1/2 mile east of the Katonah railroad station.  Taxi service is available. By Car: Take Exit 6 off Interstate 684.  Go east on Route 35.  Take the first right onto Route 22 south.  The Museum is located1/4 mile on the left.   Museum Hours Tuesday through Saturday, 10am-5pm, Sunday 12-5pm, Closed Monday. Admission: 10am– 12pm, free; 12– 5 pm, $5 general, $3 for seniors and students; Members and children under 12 free Free Docent-Led Guided Tours Tuesday through Saturday, 2:30 pm. Tours are free with admission to the Museum Follow us on Facebook and Twitter # # # # #

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