This work is recorded in Stephen Robeson Miller’s Illustrated Catalogue Raisonné of the Surrealist Art of Kay Sage located at the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution; and will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist’s work.
Kay Sage's Ring of Iron, Ring of Wool testifies to the importance of women artists within the Surrealist movement. Sage arrived in Paris in 1937, having sold her jewelry in order to rent an apartment on the Ile St. Louis. One year later she exhibited at the Salon des Surindépendants, where the unsettling tension of her works attracted André Breton's attention. He was startled to find out that those sharp and methodically constructed paintings were the work of a woman. In 1938, through her friend and German sculptor Heinz Henghes (1906-1975), Sage met Yves Tanguy, whom she married in 1940.
Ring of Iron, Ring of Wool was painted in 1947, a pivotal year in Sage's career. That year she began exploring the enigmatic, scaffolding structures that would characterize her paintings from that moment onwards. When compared with later works such as Hyphen –now at the Museum of Modern Art in New York– Ring of Iron, Ring of Wool appears as an important, decisive step towards the artist's mature style. The architectural style of the painting, evocative of subconscious landscapes cherished by the Surrealists, is central to Sage's art.
Whitney Chadwick argued that Sage's distinctive rejection of biomorphic forms set her apart from all the other Surrealists working in abstract style and from Tanguy in particular (Women Artists and the Surrealist Movement, New York, 1985, p. 166). This allowed her to explore not only intriguing and haunting spaces, but also subtle juxtapositions of tones. Ring of Iron, Ring of Wool remarkably orchestrates shades of silver greys, luminous muddy blues and deep blacks.
[A] Kay Sage, Hyphen, 1954. Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Ring of Iron, Ring of Wool
Oil on canvas
PROPERTY OF A LADY
Signed and dated 'Kay Sage '47' (lower right); signed and dated again, titled and inscribed 'SAGE 1947 RING OF IRON RING OF WOOL WOODBURY CONN.' (on the stretcher)
Kay Sage , 1940s, Paintings, oil, France, Modern, abstract
New York, Julien Levy Gallery, Paintings by Kay Sage, October-November 1947, no. 1.
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, 1947 Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting, December 1947-January 1948, no. 127.
Hartford, Connecticut, Wadsworth Atheneum, Yves Tanguy, Kay Sage, August-September 1954, no. 4 (illustrated, pl. 4).
New York, Catherine Viviano Gallery, Kay Sage: Retrospective Exhibition, 1937-1958, April 1960, no. 23 (illustrated).
New York, Jeffrey Hoffeld & Company, Inc., Women Surrealists: A Selection of Works from 1930 to 1950, April-June 1985.
54 x 37 7/8 in. (137 x 96.2 cm.)
H. Devree, "An Annual Roundup" in The New York Times, 7 December 1947, p. 96 (titled Ring of Iron, Ring of Wood).
J. Gibbs, "Abstraction Continues to Reign at Whitney Painting Annual" in The Art Digest, vol. 22, no. 6, 15 December 1947, p. 9-10 (illustrated).
W. Chadwick, "The Muse as Artist: Women in the Surrealist Movement" in Art in America, vol. 73, no. 7, July 1985, pp. 120-29 (illustrated in color).
Julien Levy Gallery, New York (acquired from the artist, 1947).
Catherine Viviano Gallery, New York.
Mr. Melvin and Dr. Helen W. Boigon, New York (1960).
Maxwell Davidson Gallery, New York.
Hirschl & Adler Galleries, Inc., New York.
Maxwell Davidson Gallery, New York.
Meredith Palmer Gallery, New York (acquired from the above, 11 May 1987).
Private collection, United States (acquired from the above).
Alan Koppel Gallery, Chicago.
Ubu Gallery, New York.
Acquired by the present owner, 2002.