“One rarely takes the time to really see a flower. I have painted it big enough so that others would see what I see,” said O’Keeffe referring to one of her most emblematic painting themes. But this exhibition truly goes in-depth into the artist's distinctive visual language. It begins with her charcoal drawings from the 1910s from when she was an art teacher. With these creations, she found relief from the prevailing academic system and took her own path. As a result, those drawings were one of the most radical creations produced at the time and O’Keeffe became a pioneer of abstraction. These works were shown to the photographer, gallery owner and advocate of modern art, Alfred Stieglitz, who was the first to exhibit her work in his Manhattan gallery, and soon after that, he became her husband.
Georgia O’Keeffe found her most significant sources of inspiration in landscapes and nature. From 1918, she split her time between Manhattan and Lake George, bringing her focus to flowers, countryside barns and New York’s skyscrapers. Later on, she found her place in New Mexico translating what she saw in her surroundings into art: geological formations, vernacular architecture and bones of dead animals. Ultimately, her artwork still stands out for its uniqueness and modernity. To give you a hint on how transcendental her figure has been, you must know that Jimson weed: White Flower No. 1
, which can be seen in this art show, is the most expensive piece of work ever sold by a female artist. And it is also worth stressing that despite the artist denying this fact, her renowned flower paintings led many modern-day critics to classify them as a reference to erotic depictions of female genitalia.
This retrospective, curated by Chief Curator Theodora Vischer, gives European viewers the rare opportunity to visit an extensive showcase of Georgia O’Keeffe’s work, which is hardly on display in collections outside the United States. An exhibition organised by the Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel, the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza
in Madrid, and the Centre Pompidou
in Paris, in partnership with the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
in Santa Fe, New Mexico.