Printmakers You Should Know: Wanda Gag

Today's Printmaker You Should Know was both an artist and a children's book author: Wanda Gag (1893-1946).

Preparing a lithographic stone, ca. 1947. Image courtesy of

Wanda was the eldest of seven children, and apparently inherited her artistic talent from her father, who decorated his family's house with his painting. Unfortunately he died from tuberculosis when Wanda was fourteen, and her mother was also sickly, so she had to take over as head of the household. After finishing high school, she began doing various odd jobs working as an illustrator.

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Snoopy (Snoopie) in Lewis Gannett's Garden (Cat in Garden), 1932-33, stone lithograph on paper. Image courtesy of
Once the eldest two of her younger sisters had graduated high school, Gag studied art at St. Paul Art School, followed by the Minneapolis Art School and the Arts Student League in New York. Before the Depression she began achieving success as an artist, showing in galleries like the Weyhe in New York. You can also find a lot of her work today in various museum collections, including ours.

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Spring in the Garden, 1927, lithograph on paper. Image courtesy of Roswell Museum and Art Center.
Gag was an independent woman, and saw herself as the equal of any man. She was, from my understanding, an engaging character, with some of her artist friends including Rockwell Kent and Georgia O'Keeffe.

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Backyard Corner (Barnyard timbers), 1930, lithograph on paper. Image courtesy of

In addition to showing her own work, Gag earned a livelihood through writing and illustrating children's books, several of which are still in print today. The most renowned of them, Millions of Cats, reminds me of my dad.

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Millions of Cats, 1928. This book was also winner of a Newbery Honor award in 1929.
As an artist, Gag was a painter, draughtswoman, and printmaker. She worked in diverse printing media, such as lithography and block printing. When she was short on funds, she would work on sandpaper, including for lithography. Regardless of medium, her work is often characterized by curving lines, dramatic shadows, and a fondness for nature.

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Spinning Wheel, 1925, wood engraving on paper. Image courtesy of
Unlike many of the artists I've described here, Gag didn't live in New Mexico, but she knew Howard Cook and Barbara Latham, and they traded prints with each other. When Cook and Latham donated their holdings to the RMAC, we had the good fortune of getting Gag's work too.

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Winter Garden, 1935, lithograph on paper. Image courtesy of
Want to learn more? Check out these sites:

If you want to see some of the RMAC's holdings, cut and paste this link:

You can also read about one of the RMAC's earlier exhibits (done in 2010, before I arrived), which featured Gag's work, here: