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Inner Worlds

Art and Artists
 Arthur Dove
 Richard Hunt
 Judy Onofrio
 Betye Saar
 Kay Sage
 Yves Tanguy
 Jane Tuckerman

What is Art? Environment Identity Designing Spaces and Places
Kay Sage
Kay Sage, On the Contrary Click to larger image
Kay Sage
On the Contrary, 1952
oil on canvas
35 1/2 x 27 3/4 in.
About the Art

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

Vocabulary Terms

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.

Surrealism--Art that 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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Inner Worlds | What Is Art? | Environment | Designing Spaces and Places | Identity
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