Dear Shaded Viewers,
One of the most important personalities of the twentieth-century, Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986), will have her first retrospective in France at the Centre Pompidou. The exhibition includes over a hundred paintings, sketches, and photographs, providing a comprehensive overview of her career as an artist. Georgia O’Keeffe died at the age of 98. She was a member of the exclusive group of American modernists in the 1920s, she took part in the country’s search for identity in the 1930s prior to becoming a pioneer of “hard edge” abstract painting in the 1960s.
The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, MoMA, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid have all contributed to this extraordinary exhibition. Georgia O’Keeffe’s artistic trajectory chronologically unfolds starting with the first “cosmic” vertigo inspired by the vastness of the Texas plains in 1910, to the metropolis and rural landscapes of New York State in the 1920s and 1930s, ending with New Mexico, where she settled permanently after WWII. The show begins with a section dedicated to Gallery 291, a pivotal venue in Georgia O’Keeffe’s career as an artist. She was influenced by the creative artists and movements of contemporary European art when she arrived in New York in 1918. Auguste Rodin, Henri Matisse, Francis Picabia, and Paul Cézanne, among others, had their first American shows at the same gallery, which was co-founded by photographer Alfred Stieglitz.
Georgia O’Keeffe saw herself in the aesthetic of the Russian painter Vassily Kandinsky’s Spiritual in Art in the gallery’s journal Camera Work (1912). The work was based on symbolism, a romantic sense of nature and spiritualism. This claim of filiation led American historians, in particular, Barbara Rose and Barbara Novak, to place O’Keeffe’s work in the tradition of the first American landscape painters, as embodied by Thomas Cole, Albert Bierstadt, and Thomas Moran, as well as to link her to the philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “transcendentalist” teachings and Walt Whitman’s poetry.
Alfred Stieglitz was the first to exhibit Georgia O’Keeffe’s drawings at Gallery 291 (Special No. 15, 1916-1917); it was love at first sight between the young painter and the photographer, and from that time on he devoted an annual exhibition to O’Keeffe’s recent works. His support of her work contributed to her public recognition and consolidated her place in the rapidly expanding art market. In 1929, she was the first woman artist to be included in the exhibitions of the newly created MoMA. Later, she was the first woman to have a retrospective exhibition at major American museums (Chicago in 1943, MoMA in 1946). Georgia O’Keeffe was an “ice-breaker” for the generation of feminist artists of the 1960’s. who paved the way for the recognition of art that was no longer associated with the gender of its author.
Beyond the iconic flower paintings, Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings reinvent themselves over the decades, from the skyscrapers of New York and the barns of Lake George to the cow bones she brought back from her excursions in the Indian deserts (Ram’s Head, White Hollyhock-Hills, 1935).
September 8 – December 6th
11am – 9pm, every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday
11am – 11pm, every Thursday
Gallery 2 – Centre Pompidou, Paris