Exhibit Spotlight: Georgia O’Keeffe
Written by Marla Wasser
Georgia O’Keeffe (1887 – 1996) is widely recognized as the founding figure of American modernism. This stunning retrospective at the Art Gallery of Ontario, spans six decades, and features over 80 works, showcasing O’Keeffe’s early charcoal works, watercolours, photography, and her diverse landscape paintings. Included is the much celebrated flower painting, Jimson Weed/White Flower No.1 (1932), sold at Sotheby’s in 2014 for $44.4 million. It holds the record for the most expensive painting by a female artist sold at auction.
The Influence of Modernistic Photography
As early as 1917, O’Keeffe regarded photography as an art form that was equal to painting, which was a radical point of view at the time. The impact of photography can be seen through O’Keeffe’s flower representation, where she explores magnification and cropping as an abstract to the natural form. O’Keeffe was close friends of famed photographers Ansel Adams (1902 – 1984) and Paul Strand (1890 – 1976). She travelled with them as part of her exploration of American landscapes, landing on New Mexico, her favourite destination, which was the subject of much of her later paintings.
O’Keefe’s marriage to photographer and gallerist Alfred Stieglitz (1864 – 1946) greatly impacted her career and resulted in a mutual exchange of artistic influence, giving them the moniker of "the art world's power couple." The exhibition includes a series of Stieglitz’s portraits and nudes of O’Keeffe, as well as works by key members of the avant-garde circle such as Marsden Hartley (1877 – 1943) and John Marin (1870 – 1953).
In 1946, O’Keeffe became the first woman to earn a retrospective at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. In 1977, O’Keeffe was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honour in the United States for her achievements in art by President Gerald R. Ford. She remains the first and only female artist to receive this prestigious award. In 1985, she was also granted the prestigious National Medal of Arts by President Ronald Reagan. She is the only female artist in North America to have a museum dedicated solely to her work and legacy, located in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
This exhibition captures O’Keeffe’s deep personal connection to the landscapes, architecture, nature and music that influenced her style. It will run through until July 30, 2017.
Organized by the Tate Modern in collaboration with the Art Gallery of Ontario