Ge­or­gia on our minds

O’Keeffe in Process

Pasatiempo - - CONTENT -

Visi­tors to the Ge­or­gia O’Keeffe Mu­seum and the New Mexico Mu­seum of Art will find no short­age of O’Keeffe paint­ings on view this fall. O’Keeffe in Process, at NMMoA, draws on the col­lec­tions of both mu­se­ums to present an over­view of the work pro­duced through­out her ca­reer. The open­ing of From New York to New Mexico: Master­works of Amer­i­can Modernism From The Vil­cek Foun­da­tion Col­lec­tion, now on ex­hibit at the O’Keeffe , and An

Amer­i­can Modernism at NMMoA, which both con­tain ex­am­ples of her work, places her in the con­text of a unique set of like­minded artists who, af­ter mak­ing a name for them­selves on the East Coast, headed West to chase an artis­tic ver­sion of the Amer­i­can dream. Among them were John Marin, Stu­art Davis, John Sloan, and Mars­den Hart­ley. De­spite their suc­cesses, none of them ever be­came as syn­ony­mous with the South­west as O’Keeffe did.

O’Keeffe in Process fo­cuses on the shift­ing sub­ject mat­ter in the artist’s works: por­traits of fam­ily mem­bers cre­ated as a stu­dent in 1905, the moody land­scapes and flo­ral com­po­si­tions painted at Lake Ge­orge, her desert land­scapes, and ab­strac­tions. Cer­tain shapes ap­pealed to O’Keeffe and came into her com­po­si­tions time and again. For in­stance, the shape of the Ped­er­nal, the nar­row north­ern New Mexico mesa O’Keeffe painted sev­eral times, is fore­shad­owed in the shape of a house in House With Tree — Red, a wa­ter­color from 1916. The wa­ter­color’s somber hues sug­gest Lake Ge­orge, where O’Keeffe was a fre­quent visi­tor to the fam­ily home of Al­fred Stieglitz, pri­mar­ily through­out the 1920s. In the ‘30s, she went back and forth from New Mexico to New York, de­vel­op­ing two dis­tinct bod­ies of work, both rec­og­niz­ably O’Keeffe and equally evoca­tive of a sense of place.

O’Keeffe also worked with ab­strac­tion through­out her life­time. The shapes and forms within her com­po­si­tions were drawn from the same nat­u­ral sources as her rep­re­sen­ta­tional works. Pair­ing paint­ings such as her Chama River, Ghost Ranch, New Mexico from 1937 and On the

River (From the River Light Blue), a com­po­si­tion from nearly 30 years later, shows this re­la­tion­ship be­tween rep­re­sen­ta­tion and ab­strac­tion. O’Keefe’s prodi­gious out­put is a tes­ta­ment to the en­dur­ing in­flu­ence of place on her sub­ject mat­ter. — Michael Abatemarco

“O’Keeffe in Process” is on ex­hibit at the New Mexico Mu­seum of Art (107 W. Palace Ave.) through Jan. 17, 2016. En­trance is by mu­seum ad­mis­sion; call 505-476-5072.

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