Indepth Arts News: |
"O' So Calla Lilly - The Brooks Presents Georgia O'Keeffe"
2003-02-23 until 2003-05-04
Memphis Brooks Museum
USA United States of America
During the second half of the 19th century, the South
African calla lily was introduced to the United States and its distinctive
spear-shaped leaves and yellow and white blooms began to appear as a subject
in American art. Georgia O'Keeffe and the Calla Lily in American Art,
1860-1940 is the first exhibition to examine this exotic bloom as a popular
and essentially modern subject. Georgia O'Keeffe and the Calla Lily in American Art, 1860-1940, inspects the
great appeal of the calla as a subject for American painters and
photographers. It presents a visual feast of more than 50 depictions of this
elegant bloom by over 30 different artists, such as Imogen Cunningham,
Charles Demuth, Marsden Hartley, Georgia O'Keeffe, Joseph Stella, and Edward
The exhibition's eight paintings by O'Keeffe, five by Hartley, and one by
Demuth acknowledge the importance of this subject to the Stieglitz circle of
modernist artists. O'Keeffe became known as "The Lady of the Lily" in the
1920s because of her intense interest in the calla, which she depicted
frequently and in marvelously provocative ways. The manner in which she
depicted the flower defines her achievement with respect to this subject and
within the context of that of other American artists.
By documenting the popularity of the calla lily in painting over an
eighty-year period, the exhibition offers visitors a captivating tour of the
advent of modernism in American art. The flower's popularity waned rather
suddenly, and since 1940 it has rarely interested American artists. Thus the
narrow focus of the exhibition allows for a fascinating glimpse into an
important moment in the development of modern art. Furthermore, it offers
visitors an exciting and rich visual experience, and the opportunity to view
the works of many major American artists.
The exhibition catalogue, which will be available in the Museum
Store, includes color plates, an exhibition checklist,
biographical information about the artists, and a selected bibliography.
The calla lily began to appeal to American artists shortly after the
plant was first imported to America in the mid-19th century. In the early
20th century, the calla lily began to enjoy a heightened popularity,
particularly in the 1920's and 1930's when dozens of painters and
photographers made it the subject of their work. This exhibition explores
the great appeal of the calla lily and further defines O'Keeffe's place
within the history of American art by presenting her work alongside that of
Exhibition Lecture. Dr. Chris Reed, Chair of the Art
Department at Lake Forest College and the 2002 Hohenberg Chair of Excellence
at the University of Memphis, will give a talk entitled "Is a Calla Lily
ever just a Calla Lily?: Abstraction, Symbolism, and Sexual Identity." Dr.
Reed will explore the work of early American Modernist artists Georgia
O'Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, and Charles Demuth through the work in the
Speakers Bureau. In order to increase interest in the exhibition,
the Brooks Speakers Bureau will offer free thirty-minute slide presentations
to community groups. The talks, given by Museum volunteers, will be offered
as of November and will be available through the full run of the exhibition.
A flyer with details on the program will be mailed to a variety of
organizations including senior citizen centers, clubs (garden, civic, etc.),
Free School Tours. The Museum will offer free tours for grades 1 - 12.
Teachers resource packets will be provided that will include an
introduction/overview of the exhibition, pre- and post-visit activities,
cross-curricular connections, a timeline of events and a resource list for
books, videos and websites. Docent-lead gallery tours are followed by
hands-on activities in the studio. The tours will stress the changes in
American culture and society over a fascinating eighty-year period through
the works in the exhibition.
Georgia O'Keeffe and the Calla Lily in American Art, 1860-1940, organized by
the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, has been made possible by The Burnett
Foundation and the National Advisory Council of the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum.
Additional support has been received from The Brown Foundation Inc.,
Houston, McCune Charitable Foundation, and the City of Santa Fe Arts
Commission and the 1% Lodgers' Tax.
This project is funded under an agreement with the Tennessee Arts
Commission, and The National Endowment for the Arts.
Calla Lilies, 1924
Oil on canvas