National Museum of Women in the Arts
Kay Sage
June 25 1898 - January 08 1963
Photograph of Kay Sage and Yves Tanguy, ca. 1950, unknown photographer. 4 x 6 inches (11 x 16 cm). Kay Sage papers, ca. 1945-1963. Archives of American Art, Washington, DC, USA.
Place of Birth:
Phonetic Spelling:
kay say-j
Minority status:
White non-Hispanic
Work Type/Media:
Artistic Role(s):
Collagist, Painter
Artist's Biography:
One of the few women Surrealists, Kay Sage achieved notable success during her career. Her paintings of harsh geometric and architectural forms casting long shadows across parched, desolate settings reflect the psychological landscape of post-war despair.

Sage was born the daughter of a wealthy senator in 1898 in Albany, New York. After her parents divorced early in her childhood, she moved with her mother to San Francisco, taking extended trips to Europe throughout her youth. In 1919, she attended the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, DC and upon moving to Rome in 1920, briefly studied at The British School and Scuola Libera delle Belle Arti. In 1925, she married Prince Ranieri de San Faustino in Rome. During her ten year marriage, she seldom painted and grew tired of the idle lifestyle of aristocracy. When she divorced Faustino in 1935, she began focusing on painting and had her first solo exhibition one year later at the Galleria del Milione in Milan.

In 1937, Sage moved to Paris where she met many of the artists at the forefront of the Surrealist movement. She became romantically involved with successful Surrealist painter Yves Tanguy, with whom she moved to New York at the onset of World War II. In New York, Sage exhibited her paintings and organized exhibitions of work from Surrealist artists in France. In 1940, she married Tanguy and together they moved to Woodbury, Connecticut where they set up individual studios and continued exhibiting in New York.

Upon the death of her husband in 1955, Sage became increasingly reclusive. She continued to paint and published poetry and in 1958, despite deteriorating eyesight, began working with collage. Although she was highly regarded as an artist and continued to exhibit widely with enthusiastic reviews, Sage suffered from depression and in 1963, tragically ended her life.

Sage is remembered for her remarkable career as a woman Surrealist. Despite her marriage to a famous artist, she continued to sign her works with her maiden name, and only exhibited with her husband late in her career. Upon her death, she bequeathed 100 works to The Museum of Modern Art in New York and contributed a legacy of funds to continue to promote Modern art.

Other Occupation(s):
Poet, Translator, Writer
Place(s) of Residence:
Where Trained/Schools:
Scuola Libera delle Belle Arti, Rome, Italy (1920) The British School, Rome, Italy (1920) Corcoran School of Art, Washington, DC, USA (1919)
Related Visual Artists:
wife of Yves Tanguy friend of Roberto Matta friend of Alexander Calder friend of André Masson friend of Arshile Gorky friend of Naum Gabo friend of Flora Whitney influenced by Giorgio de Chirico student of Onorato Carlandi
Fellowships, grants and awards:
Prize, Connecticut Development Commission, Hartford, CT, USA (1951) Exhibition Prize, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA (1945)
Earliest exhibition:
Galleria del Milione, Milan, Italy (1936)
NMWA exhibition(s):
Preserving the Past, Securing the Future: Donations of Art, 1987-1997
Artist retrospective(s):
Kay Sage, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA (1976) A Tribute to Kay Sage, Mattatuck Museum, Waterbury, CT, USA (1965) Catherine Viviano Gallery, New York, NY, USA (1960)
Related places
Woodury (died at)
Tomorrow, For Example