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 Wanda Hazel Gag  (1893 - 1946)

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Lived/Active: New Jersey/New York/Minnesota      Known for: children's book illustration, drawings, printmaking

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Ad Code: 3
Wanda Hazel Gag
from Auction House Records.
Boy Reading
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Wanda Gag, illustrator and painter, became a highly praised printmaker in New York in the 1920s and 1930s, and was much credited for her skill in depicting scenes of everyday life.

She was born in New Ulm, Minnesota, and grew up with the customs and fairy tales of her parents' native Bohemia (Czechoslovakia), in a household filled with German music and literature. Her father, Anton Gag, was an artist who supported the family by decorating houses and churches, and he encouraged her interest in art.

In 1910, her drawings were included in a traveling exhibition organized by the Minneapolis School of Art. After winning prizes for her work, she began formal art study, spending a year at the St. Paul School of Art and completing a three-year course of study at the Minneapolis School of Art. In 1917, having won a scholarship to study at the Art Students League, she went to New York City, where she lived and worked until her death.

From an early age, Gag wrote and illustrated stories. She was widely known for her children's books, including Millions of Cats, and her illustrated translations of Grimm's Fairy Tales and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

In addition, she was recognized as a prolific printmaker, producing many etchings, lithographs, and wood engravings. Her drawings and prints were exhibited extensively across the United States during her lifetime and can be found in museum collections in America and Europe. Her bold style of strong, sinuous lines animates even objects such as blacksmith tools in The Forge, as well as organic forms such as the vines and trees in Spring in the Garden.

Biography from Kramer Gallery, Inc.:
Wanda Gag (pronounced like "bog") was the oldest and best known of a family of artists and authors. The daughter of Anton Gag, a painter who immigrated from Bohemia (present-day Czechoslovakia) to New Ulm in southern Minnesota, she studied at home with her father before attending the St. Paul School of Art and the Minneapolis School of Art (today the Minneapolis College of Art and Design). A life-long diarist, Gag published her art school diaries under the title Growing Pains  in 1940.

Gag moved to New York to continue her art training at the Art Students League where she took up printmaking. Her prints in various media, shown nationally in exhibitions and in Fifty Prints of the Year and other publications, often depicted vernacular interiors and rural landscapes in richly patterned light and shadow. A parallel career as an author of books for children brought Gag global fame. Her 1928 book, Millions of Cats, was an instant classic; this and other titles such as The ABC Bunny (1933) featured her unified page design and typography, as well as stories strongly influenced by the folktales she heard as a child.

Archival collections of Wanda Gag papers and artworks are at the Van Pelt Library of the University of Pennsylvania and the Minnesota Historical Society.

Audur H. Winnan: Wanda Gag: A Catalogue Raisonne of the Prints (1993)
Wanda Gag: Growing Pains: Diaries and Drawings for the Years 1908-1917 (1940/1984)
Karen Nelson Hoyle: Wanda Gag (1994)
Julie L'Enfant: The Gag Family: German-Bohemian Artists in America (2002)

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