Wanda Gág


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Printmaker, illustrator, and painter. A native of New Ulm, Minnesota, Wanda Hazel Gág studied from 1914 to 1917 at the Minneapolis School of Art (now Minneapolis College of Art and Design) and subsequently at the Art Students League, where John Sloan numbered among her teachers. From the 1920s, she achieved considerable success with inventive prints, chiefly lithographs. These interiors, landscapes, and architectural scenes feature strong compositions of simplified form. Exemplifying the moody drama of many, the 1929 lithograph Lamplight depicts an uninhabited room filled with mysterious shadows. Several children's books followed the success of Gág's illustrated tale Millions of Cats (1928). She also prepared drawings for other works, including four volumes of Grimm's fairy tales. After a year in Connecticut, in 1924 she moved to the northern New Jersey town of Glen Gardner. In 1930 she married an intermittent companion of many years, Earle Humphrey, and moved to a Delaware Valley farm near Milford, New Jersey. She died in New York. Although she regretted her limited time for painting and printmaking, Gág's commercially successful illustrated books freed her from economic insecurity and permitted an independent life consciously modeled on the image of the sexually liberated and professionally accomplished “New Woman” of the 1920s. “A Hotbed of Feminists,” which appeared in The Nation in 1927, included her opinion that “the aesthetic value of sin is not to be sneezed at.” In 1940, she published a memoir, Growing Pains: Diaries and Drawings for the Years 1908–1917, based on her journals.

Subjects: Literature.

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