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Spaeth, Sigrid, 1936-1996



  • Existence: 1936 - 1996


Sigrid Spaeth (1936-1996), was a German artist and designer who lived in New York City and Amagansett, Long Island, during her 35-year relationship with artist Saul Steinberg. Sigrid (Gigi) Spaeth was born to Amalia (Malli) Spaeth (née Kuhn) and Ernst Spaeth in Baumholder, Germany, on August 9, 1936, the youngest of three children. Spaeth had two older siblings, Ekkehard Spaeth and Ursula (Uschi) Beard. Spaeth spent her early childhood with her grandparents in Baumholder and later joined her family as a teenager in Trier, Germany where they had moved before World War II. After completing her secondary education, Spaeth worked as an au pair in Paris and hitchhiked across Europe, before returning to Germany in April 1958 to study photography at the Staatliche Schule für Kunst und Handwerk Saarbrücken. She moved to New York City in September 1958, and later met Steinberg at a party in July 1960. Though they never married, Spaeth and Steinberg lived together intermittently at Steinberg’s Amagansett residence, and in separate apartments in New York City. Spaeth continued to travel alone, and with Steinberg, throughout her life. Between travels, she attended courses at Columbia University and worked occasionally as a freelance graphic designer, creating book covers for publishers including Oxford University Press and Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Spaeth was also a photographer and studio artist. Spaeth’s work was primarily auto-biographical, mostly related to travel in Western Africa, and was exhibited at local art shows in and around Southampton, New York. Spaeth was known as “Gigi” to friends and family though sometimes used the pseudonym Sigrid Savage. In 1975, she adopted a kitten named Papoose, with whom she formed a strong attachment. Papoose, and Kitoun, a second cat adopted after Papoose’s death in 1989, appear frequently in Spaeth’s correspondence, photographs, diaries, and photobooks. Having struggled with mental illness for many years, Spaeth died by suicide in September 1996.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

Saul Steinberg correspondence to Aldo Buzzi

Call Number: YCAL MSS 1135

The papers are comprised of autograph manuscript letters from American artist Saul Steinberg to his friend, writer and architect Aldo Buzzi from 1936 to 1999.

Dates: 1936-1999

Saul Steinberg papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 1053

The Saul Steinberg Papers consist of correspondence, artwork, professional papers, personal papers, photographs, published artwork, clippings, collected and source material, realia, financial papers, and audio-visual material documenting artist Saul Steinberg’s professional and personal activities.

Dates: 1417-2001, bulk 1931-1999

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Art -- Exhibitions 1
Art, American -- 20th Century 1
Art, Modern -- 20th Century 1
Audiovisual materials 1
Bertoldo 1