Sage was a Surrealist painter. The Surrealists
were a group of artists who created art from their "inner worlds."
Paris was the birthplace of this style. The Surrealists disagreed
with the Dada shock tactics and preferred a more
positive or whimsical absurdity. They were influenced by psychoanalyst
Sigmund Freud to create "unconscious paintings which correspond to
a state of dreaming." They were trying to find a higher degree of
reality. Surrealism frequently incorporates real objects in unreal
situations and visual representations of dreams. It is understandable
that Sage's artwork expressed a split between two worlds--reality
and fantasy--when we consider her early life experiences.
In 1949 Sage began to paint scenes that depicted strange steel
structures that looked like shelters. In On the Contrary
the shelter structure is shown in sharp detail and placed in an
unreal or dreamlike landscape. Sage studied in Rome during a time
when classical drawing was taught. This technique emphasized clarity,
harmony, and order and its influence can be seen in this painting.
The concept of a shelter-like structure or environment also appears
in the following text Sage wrote in 1957:
"I have built an ivory tower of despair...
I scream, I scream...
In my ivory tower."
-- Kay Sage, 1957
Dada--Anti-art movement which
emerged in Europe in 1916 as a reaction against the inhumanity of
World War I; interpreted irrational and nihilistic, or hopeless,
forces by creating ridiculing images; used shock tactics.
emphasizes fantasy and real objects in unreal situations; the look
and feeling of dreams painted realistically. It includes surprise,
contradiction and shock.
symbol--Usually an image
that stands for an idea or object.
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