Wanda Gág (1893–1946), There is a Green Hill Far Away—Sewer Pipes in Central Park Posted on July 21st, 2014 by

There is a Green Hill Far Away—Sewer Pipes in Central ParkWanda Gág (1893–1946)
There is a Green Hill Far Away—Sewer Pipes in Central Park, 1929
Brush and ink on sandpaper, 10 x 14 3⁄4 inches
Hillstrom Museum of Art purchase with endowment acquisition funds

After her youth in New Ulm and art studies at the St. Paul School of Art and the Minneapolis School of Art, Gág became one of twelve students in the United States to receive a scholarship to the Art Students League in New York, where she studied under Kenneth Hayes Miller (1876–1952). Drawing is the medium with which the artist is most closely identified, and she wrote, “As a child, I thought drawing was like eating and sleeping. I could not imagine life without it, and I was astonished when I discovered that many people did not draw at all.” The dating of this work to 1929, a few years after Gág’s critically acclaimed first solo exhibition at the Weyhe Gallery in New York in 1926, derives from references in Gág’s published diaries. The artist indicates the scenery of Central Park as a backdrop to the more mundane sewer pipes of the foreground. When drawing, Gág attempted to show how objects shape the space around them, and she tried to indicate the energy that even simple things such as pipes can have, as can be seen here in the almost electrical aura emanating from the bending pipe at center left. This work was drawn on a piece of “Manning Speed Grits” sandpaper, a medium Gág invented and that she frequently used thereafter. She experimented with sandpaper as a support for lithographs in 1923 and while she ultimately settled on finer grade paper for such prints, out of frugality she began drawing on coarser grade pieces she had already purchased, discovering that she liked the glittery effects of the sand and the resulting depth.

Text from the catalogue for the exhibition The Eight, The Ashcan School, and The American Scene in the Hillstrom Collection, presented in the Hillstrom Museum of Art February 25 through April 21, 2013.


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