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Details
Kay Sage (1898-1963)
Festa
signed and dated 'Kay Sage '47' (lower right); signed and dated again, titled and inscribed 'KAY SAGE "FESTA" 1947 Woodbury CONN' (on the stretcher)
oil on canvas
18 x 14 1/8 in. (45.8 x 35.9 cm.)
Painted in 1947
Provenance
John Bernard Myers Gallery, New York.
Merlyn Pitzele, New York (acquired from the above, circa 1947).
Peter Pitzele and Marilyn Redfield, New York (by descent from the above, 1964).
Maxwell Davidson Gallery, New York (acquired from the above, 1977).
Jeffrey Hoffeld & Co., Inc., New York (acquired from the above, November 1984).
Anon. sale, Sotheby’s, New York, 25 April 1986, lot 65.
Galerie 1900–2000, Paris.
Jacques Herold, Paris (acquired from the above, 1988).
Galerie Thessa Herold, Paris (acquired from the above).
Galerie 1900–2000, Paris (acquired from the above).
Acquired by the present owners, 2012.
Literature
C. Pennoyer, "Femme-Enfants of Surrealism, Jeanclos," Art World, May-June 1985 (illustrated).
M. Fleiss, Espaces de Notre Temps: Galerie 1900-2000: Almanach de Demi-Stock, 1986, p. 42 (illustrated in color on the cover).
M.D. Zellman, American Art Analog 1874-1930, New York, 1986, vol. III (illustrated in color).
G. Colvile, Scandaleusement d'elles: Trente-quatre femmes surréalistes, Paris, 1999, p. 271 (illustrated in color).
K. von Maur, Yves Tanguy und der Surrealismus, Stuttgart, 2000, p. 240 (illustrated, p. 119).
G. Durozoi, History of the Surrealist Movement, Chicago, 2002 (illustrated in color).
G. Sebbag, Memorabilia: Constellations inaperc¸ues, Dada & surre´alisme, 1916-1970, Paris, 2010, p. 286 (illustrated, p. 287).
S. Robeson Miller, Kay Sage: Catalogue Raisonné, New York, 2018, p. 192, no. P.1947.3 (illustrated in color, p. 193).
Exhibited
New York, Julien Levy Gallery, Paintings by Kay Sage, October-November 1947, no. 10.
New York, Jeffrey Hoffeld & Co., Inc., Women Surrealists: A Selection of Works from 1930 to 1950, April-June 1985 (illustrated on the cover).
Milan, Palazzo Reale, I surrealisti, June-September 1989, p. 642 (illustrated in color, p. 427).
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno, El Surrealismo entre Viejo y Nuevo Mundo, December 1989-February 1990, p. 249 (illustrated in color).
Geneva, Musée Rath, Les figures de la liberté, October 1995-January 1996, p. 234, no. 126 (illustrated in color).
Aix-en-Provence, Galerie d'art du Conseil Général des Bouches-du-Rho^ne, ...des duos et des couples, January-March 2003 (illustrated in color).
Rome, Complesso Monumentale del Vittoriano, Dada e surrealismo riscoperti, October 2009-February 2010, p. 451 (illustrated in color, p. 380).
Saint-Louis, Espace d'art contemporain Fernet-Branca, Chassé-croisé: Dada-Surréaliste, 1916-1969, January-July 2012 (illustrated in color).
New York, Hollis Taggart Galleries, 64th Street Inaugural Exhibition: Strange Pictures for Strange Times, Depicting the Unusual, February-March 2017.

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Lot Essay

One of few female Surrealist artists of her generation, Sage arrived in Paris in 1937, having sold her jewelry in order to rent an apartment on the Ile Saint-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 the sharp and methodically constructed paintings were the work of a woman. In 1938, through her friend and German sculptor Heinz Henghes, Sage met Yves Tanguy, whom she married in 1940. The couple escaped from Paris after the onset of World War II, and settled in Connecticut.
Festa was painted in 1947, a pivotal year in the artist’s career, when she began exploring the enigmatic scaffolding structures that would characterize her paintings from then on. In the present work, Sage evokes an eerie sense of abandonment and desolation through her dramatic use of draped, biomorphic, and architectural forms set against a vast horizon. A piece of drapery pierced with a staff hovers above the scene, a guardian—neither alive or dead, man nor woman—whose fluid drapery and sinuous curves recall those of the ancient Greek statue, Nike of Samothrace. In the right foreground a cone is knocked over in front of a covered door, on the beginning of a long, steep path which leads to an edifice in the background. A sense of isolation pervades, suggesting that this surreal place was once filled with life but later abandoned, the anthropomorphized drapery the sole remaining witness to a past civilization. When compared with later works such as Tomorrow is Never (fig. 1)—now at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York—Festa appears as an important, decisive step towards the artist's mature style. The architectural style of the painting, evocative of the subconscious landscapes cherished by the Surrealists, is central to Sage's art.
Sage would continue to develop her work as both a surrealist artist and poet, with exhibitions in America, notably via the dealers Pierre Matisse and Julien Levy in New York, and including a joint show with Tanguy at the Wadsworth Athenaeum in Hartford in 1954. Her life ended tragically with her suicide in 1963, following which Pierre Matisse undertook her instructions to distribute the remaining paintings of her estate among institutions across America. For this reason, while her works are well represented in collections such as The Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Art Institute in Chicago and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, remarkably few examples of her works have appeared on the public market.

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