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Wanda Gág

A Life of Art and Stories

1999
Author:

Karen Nelson Hoyle

Wanda Gág

A lively and accessible biography of the beloved author of Millions of Cats

Wanda Gág is best remembered for her illustrated children’s books, such as Millions of Cats, but she also produced inventive prints that interpret the forces of nature and infuse everyday objects with special character and energy. In this richly illustrated volume, Audur H. Winnan follows Gág’s journey from New Ulm, Minnesota, to Harlem nightclubs to art school to her small farm in New Jersey. Relying on excerpts from Gág’s expressive diaries and letters, Winnan reveals her as a woman ahead of her time.

This volume is most valuable as the first major catalog of Gág prints: it is most interesting as an ironic tale of a Minnesotan from an immigrant family who became a sexually and politically liberated urban woman but whose popular image remains that of a minor rustic sketcher of cats and rabbits.

Choice

Wanda Gág is best remembered for her illustrated children’s books, such as Millions of Cats, but she also produced inventive prints that interpret the forces of nature and infuse everyday objects with special character and energy. In this richly illustrated volume, Audur H. Winnan presents a fascinating account of Gág’s life and printmaking art, exploring how Gág’s work reflects not only her Minnesota childhood but her immigrant roots and bohemian life.

Relying on excerpts from Gág’s expressive diaries and letters, Winnan fleshes out a portrait of the artist. With extraordinary candor, Gág describes her intimate personal thoughts and experiences, as well as her friendships and encounters with such notable artists as Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O’Keeffe, Diego Rivera, Adolf Dehn, and Rockwell Kent. Throughout her writings, Gág reflects on her career, on the restrictions placed on women, and on her sexual desires. This portrayal reveals both the internationally recognized artist who drew inspiration from van Gogh and Cézanne, and the vibrant, erotic woman who admitted being amazed by her own passions.

Winnan follows Gág’s journey from New Ulm, Minnesota, to Harlem nightclubs to art school to her small farm in New Jersey. The artist’s oeuvre and frank diaries reveal her as a woman ahead of her time.

Wanda Gág

Wanda Gág (1893–1946) was a prolific painter and printmaker, and is well known as the author and illustrator of numerous children’s books, including Millions of Cats and The ABC Bunny.

Audur H. Winnan lives in New York City.

Karen Nelson Hoyle is professor and curator of the Children’s Literature Research Collection at the University of Minnesota. She has served as chair of the Caldecott Award committee and member of the Newbery Award Committee. She is the author of Danish Children’s Literature in English.

Wanda Gág

This volume is most valuable as the first major catalog of Gág prints: it is most interesting as an ironic tale of a Minnesotan from an immigrant family who became a sexually and politically liberated urban woman but whose popular image remains that of a minor rustic sketcher of cats and rabbits.

Choice

This attractive volume provides a most complete account of the life and work of one of the important artists and illustrators of this century.

AB Bookman’s Weekly

This illustrated biography traces Wanda Gág from her very poor beginnings in small-town Minnesota to her eventual migration to New York City. Even more illuminating are the almost 100 pages of diary and letter excerpts, many including sketches—and, of course, the reproductions of her distinctive pictures, many done on sandpaper and all exhibiting the strength and vitality of a major talent.

SchoolArts

A fine piece of work! This book should be in every print collector’s library.

Print Club of Albany and Museum of Prints and Printmaking Newsletter

A remarkably rich biography. Splendid and rewarding.

Woman’s Art Journal

A triumphant volume that provides a rare glimpse of a passionate, gifted artist.

ARBA/Fine Arts

The rags-to-riches story of Wanda Gág. Thanks to this catalogue raisonné, we now have much more information about her life and career as an artist between the world wars. It will be the new starting point for future study of one of the most intriguing women of American culture.

Minnesota History

Wanda Gág traces the life and work of one of America’s most celebrated printmakers of the 1920s and 1930s. A full-bodied study, this book brings a much needed undervalued artist to wider attention.

Art Times

Packed with information, thoughtfully conceived and executed, this is an important and fundamental study.

Horn Book Magazine