Self Portrait No. I, 1982

Photostat, wood, Plexiglass, paint

29 1/2 x 21 x 2 7/8 inches


For over twenty-five years Sarah Austin created meticulously crafted collage constructions that are engaged in a complex visual dialogue with the history of art. She was born in Hartford, Connecticut on April 22, 1935 to Helen Goodwin Austin and A. Everett ďChickĒ Austin, Jr., famed director of the Wadsworth Athenaeum and champion of the avant-garde during the 1930's and 1940's. Sarah Austin studied art history in Florence, Italy and received her fine art training at the Hartford Art School. In 1958 she moved to Boston, Massachusetts where she worked for the Institute of Contemporary Art. Four years later she relocated to New York City where she worked at Pace Gallery, the Archives of American Art, and later as a volunteer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Sarah Austinís involvement with collage began during the late 1960's when she created a series of motorized box constructions. These works, inspired by her interest in mechanical gadgets and toys, combine electronic devices with found images and objects. As her work evolved, Austin became increasingly interested in the expressive possibilities of the box form. Tied by fate and inclination to the art world, the art world itself became her primary subject. Her densely layered visual quotations function both as homage to the artists and writers who informed her visual thinking and as purely formal elements in a complex interplay of linear, spatial, and tonal relationships. Portraiture is a central theme in Sarah Austinís work. Modern masters are invoked in numerous collage constructions by both their photographic likenesses and by reproductions of their work. In the spirit of Gertrude Steinís literary portraits, Austin brings her subjects to life through a sophisticated handling of structural relationships.