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"VIRTUOSO WORKS ON PAPER BY GEORGIA O'KEEFFE"
2000-07-29 until 2000-10-29
Georgia O'Keefe Museum
Santa Fe, NM, USA

Drawing on new scholarship and including many rarely seen works from private collections, O'Keeffe on Paper presents 52 stunning watercolors, pastels and charcoals by Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986). The exhibition offers fresh insights into this distinctive and little-known aspect of the artist's oeuvre. It is on view at the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico, July 29 through October 29, 2000.

The exhibition is organized by the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. It is made possible by The Burnett Foundation, the Henry Luce Foundation, The Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation and the National Advisory Council of the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum.

The exhibition celebrates the publication of the two-volume O'Keeffe catalogue raisonné, a major scholarly project of the National Gallery of Art in partnership with The Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation. We are delighted to collaborate with the National Gallery in presenting this exceptional exhibition, honoring the publication of the catalogue raisonné and bringing before the public works of such significance, said George G. King, director, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum. He noted that the O'Keeffe Museum celebrates its third anniversary in July as well.

O'Keeffe created works on paper throughout her long career and did some of her most innovative work in watercolor, pastel and charcoal. By including sheets produced over a half-century period, starting in 1915, the exhibition illuminates the artist's technical virtuosity, while tracing the development of her personal artistic language. In a broader sense, O'Keeffe's work reflects the dialogue in 20th-century American art between representation and abstraction.

In the 1910s, O'Keeffe created some of the most innovative images of early American modernism, starting with charcoal drawings such as No. 2 —Special (1915). The following year her work was introduced to photographer and gallery owner Alfred Stieglitz, whom she married in 1924.

O'Keeffe's watercolors from the teens range from the spare and highly abstract, such as Black Lines (1916), to broad fields of clear, bold color as in Blue No.II (1916) and Evening Star V (1917), to more representational images, Roof with Snow (1916) and Train at Night in the Desert (1916). Of particular interest are three fluid watercolors—all known as Untitled (Abstraction/Portrait of Paul Strand)—from private collections. Created in 1917, they refer to the photographer and friend of the artist and reflect O'Keeffe's experimentation with different forms of imagery.

O'Keeffe settled in New York in 1918 where she became part of the circle of modernists gathered around Stieglitz, many of whom, like Stieglitz himself, embraced the city as one of their subjects over several decades. O'Keeffe employed pastel to record buildings silhouetted against the East River and charcoal to depict the skyline of Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge. Blue Flower (1918), a delicate early pastel, presages the large-format oil paintings of flowers close-up for which O'Keeffe is famous, while A White Camellia (1938) is a late pastel on a similar theme. After her permanent move to New Mexico in 1949 she again chose to work in charcoal. Among those late works is the highly abstract From a River Trip (1965), the latest drawing in the exhibition.

Co-curators of O'Keeffe on Paper are Barbara Buhler Lynes, curator of the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, author of the catalogue raisonné, and the Emily Fisher Landau Director of the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum Research Center, and Ruth E. Fine, the National Gallery's curator of modern prints and drawings and co-director of the catalogue raisonné project. Selections were made by Fine and Lynes with Judith Walsh, the National Gallery's senior paper conservator, who participated in the catalogue raisonné project, and Elizabeth Glassman, president emerita of The Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation and co-director of the catalogue raisonné project.


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