The Old Print Shop

Wanda H. Gag


Wanda Hazel Gag - printmaker, painter, author - was born on March 11, 1893, in New Ulm, Minnesota.  Wanda was the oldest of seven children.  Her father, a painter, and photographer died when she was young and her mother passed a little over a year later, leaving the young teenage Wanda Gag as head of the household.  Many in the community felt she should drop out of school and get a job to support the family.  She was determined to finish her education and worked in her spare time.  She chronicled her early years in an autobiography "Growing Pains" published in 1940.

She studied at The Saint Paul School of Art and then at the Minneapolis School of Art where she met fellow artist Adolf Dehn.  In 1917 she and Dehn won scholarships to the Art Students League in New York.  Gag continued to work and send money back to New Ulm for her siblings.  She wished to be remembered as an artist, for paintings and prints, however, it is her work as a children’s book author that she is best remembered for.  Her book "Millions of Cats" published in 1928 was the first book to incorporate text and images and it is still in print today.

As an artist, Gag was a master printmaker, producing lithographs, woodcuts, and etchings.  Her work was represented by Weyhe Gallery and her work sold very well, including her drawings.  Unfortunately, before her death in 1946 Gag destroyed many of her paintings, only a few survive.