Follow @the31women on social media!
Xenia Cage (1913-1996) was a multifaceted artist who found her footing in the worlds of fine art and theater. She was born in Juneau, Alaska to a mother who was Native Alaskan and a father who was a Russian Orthodox priest. After moving to Carmel, California as a teenager, Cage studied painting and bookbinding with Hazel Dreis and developed close friendships with notable figures such as John Steinbeck and Edward Weston.
Cage attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon, for two years, where she continued her artistic education. After meeting her future husband, the renowned composer John Cage, in Los Angeles in 1934, the couple married in 1935. They initially lived in California but later moved to Seattle and Chicago before eventually settling in New York City.
Throughout her life, Xenia Cage was involved in various artistic endeavors. She played percussion in John Cage's orchestra and designed costumes for Jean Erdman. In addition to her work as an artist, Cage was also known for her skills as a bookbinder, fabricating items for artists' books, including all of Marcel Duchamp's "Boite en Valise" and the table for Max Ernst’s chess set.
Xenia Cage's social circle was filled with notable figures from the art world. Some of her closest associates included Gretchen Schoeninger, Peggy Guggenheim, Joseph Campbell, Merce Cunningham, and Duchamp. She also acted in experimental films by Maya Deren.
Cage had several exhibitions before her inclusion in the Exhibition by 31 Women. In 1933, she exhibited with her teacher Henrietta Shore in San Francisco, and in 1941, she decorated the performance space for the Cage Percussion Players with her mobiles. In 1944, she had a solo show at the Julien Levy Gallery.
Although not directly involved in the WPA, Cage's work was primarily based in California during her early years. Her artwork in the Exhibition by 31 Women consisted of a rice paper and balsa wood mobile created in 1942, showcasing her unique artistic style. Unfortunately, the location of this work is unknown and it is presumed to be destroyed.
Xenia and John Cage's marriage lasted from 1935 to 1946. The couple had no children, but after their divorce, Xenia formed a long-term relationship with Yuri Danyluk. The two lived together on the Upper East Side of New York City until their deaths.
Xenia Cage's life was a testament to her artistic abilities and the connections she formed with some of the most influential figures in the art world. Her inclusion in the Exhibition by 31 Women highlights her artistic contributions and ensures her place in the history of 20th-century art.