Although Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986) has long been celebrated as a central figure in twentieth-century art, the abstract works she created throughout her career have remained overlooked by critics and the public in favor of her representational subjects. In 1915, O'Keeffe leaped into abstraction with a group of charcoal drawings that were among the most radical creations produced in the United States at that time. In these and subsequent abstractions, O’Keeffe sought to transcribe her ineffable thoughts and emotions. While her output of abstract work declined after 1930, she returned to abstraction in the mid-1940s with a new vocabulary that provided a precedent for a younger generation of abstractionists. By devoting itself to this largely unexplored area of her work, Georgia O’Keeffe: Abstraction is an overdue acknowledgment of her place as one of America’s first abstract artists.
The exhibition includes more than 130 paintings, drawings, watercolors, and sculptures by O'Keeffe as well as selected examples of Alfred Stieglitz’s famous photographic portrait series of O’Keeffe. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with essays by the organizers, excerpts from the recently unsealed Stieglitz-O’Keeffe correspondence, and a contextual chronology of O'Keeffe's art and life.
Georgia O’Keeffe: Abstraction travels to The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C., February 6-May 9, 2010, and to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, May 28-September 10, 2010. The curatorial team, led by Whitney curator Barbara Haskell, includes Barbara Buhler Lynes, curator of the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and the Emily Fisher Landau Director of the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum Research Center; Bruce Robertson, professor of the history of art and architecture at the University of California, Santa Barbara; Elizabeth Hutton Turner, professor and vice provost for the arts at the University of Virginia and guest curator at the Phillips Collection; and Sasha Nicholas, Whitney curatorial assistant.