High Museum to Present Major Exhibition Exploring the Work of Georgia O’Keeffe and Her Female Contemporaries
ATLANTA, February 8, 2008 - “Georgia O’Keeffe and the Women of the Stieglitz Circle” places the iconic work of O’Keeffe in the fresh context of artistic predecessors in the circle of her husband, the photographer Alfred Stieglitz. The exhibition reveals how various women artists in the Stieglitz circle paved the way for O’Keeffe’s emergence in 1915. Opening at the High Museum of Art February 9, 2008, the exhibition features approximately 90 paintings, drawings and photographs by Georgia O’Keeffe, as well as Pamela Colman Smith, Katharine Nash Rhoades, Georgia Engelhard, Gertrude Käsebier, Anne Brigman and Alfred Stieglitz.
Co-organized by the High Museum of Art and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, N.M., “Georgia O’Keeffe and the Women of the Stieglitz Circle” debuts in Santa Fe before traveling to the High Museum and the San Diego Museum of Art.
“Georgia O’Keeffe is one of the most iconic and highly-regarded artists of the 20th-century,” said Michael E. Shapiro, Nancy and Holcomb T. Green, Jr. Director, High Museum of Art. “This innovative exhibition will provide new insight into her work in the context of her less-examined predecessors in Stieglitz’s circle, and will introduce audiences to the groundbreaking role these women played in paving the way for future generations of artists.”
The work of Georgia O’Keeffe and her contemporaries laid the groundwork for the idea that women artists possessed a powerful creativity equal to that of men, and their stunning images convinced Alfred Stieglitz and his New York audiences that women could reveal a new and uniquely feminine perspective on modern experience. Each of the artists represented in “Georgia O’Keeffe and the Women of the Stieglitz Circle” at one time embodied Stieglitz’s philosophy of the woman modernist, through their lives and their distinctive forms of artistic expression.
Dating from roughly the first three decades of the 20th century, the featured works in the exhibition, including 30 by O’Keeffe, explore modern “feminine” themes such as: a pastoral world of mothers and children; the female nude symbolizing the drama of the New Woman’s struggle for independence; abstractions of mood from the unconscious mind; and nature as a paradise vis-à-vis the child’s intuitive vision of the world. The exhibition also includes two special groupings—a selection of Stieglitz photographs of his wife, O’Keeffe, representing the modernist ideal of the expressive woman-child, and a series of O’Keeffe’s red canna floral imagery, one of which (“Red Canna,” 1921) is owned by the High.
The Women of the Stieglitz Circle
Women artists featured in this exhibition include photographers Gertrude Käsebier and Anne Brigman, and painters Pamela Colman Smith and Katharine Nash Rhoades. Gertrude Käsebier was born in 1852 in Iowa. After moving to New York, she became known for her work as a portrait photographer, focusing primarily on the theme of motherhood. Kasebier was a founding member of the Photo-Secessionist group dedicated to promoting photography as a fine art. Born in Hawaii in 1869, Anne Brigman was also one of the founding members the Photo-Secessionist group. She was known for dramatic photographs of nude women in natural landscapes. Painter Pamela Colman Smith is best known for creating the design for the Rider-Waite-Smith deck of tarot cards. Born in 1878 in London, Smith later studied at the Pratt Institute. While in New York, Stieglitz mounted an exhibition of Smith’s work, the first show by a non-photographer at the gallery. Katharine Nash Rhoades was born in 1885 in New York. A poet and a painter, her paintings were exhibited at Stieglitz’s 291 Gallery. Rhoades later become a key decision-maker at the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. in its first decade.
Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz
Georgia O’Keeffe was born on November 15, 1887, in Sun Prairie, Wis. She studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Art Students League, New York. In 1908, she won the League’s William Merritt Chase still-life prize for her oil painting “Untitled” (“Dead Rabbit with Copper Pot”). In 1915, O’Keeffe began a series of abstract charcoal drawings, now recognized as being among the most innovative of their kind. She mailed them to a former classmate, Anita Pollitzer, who showed them to the internationally known photographer and art impresario, Alfred Stieglitz. In 1918, O’Keeffe moved to New York. She and Stieglitz married in 1924.
From 1923 until his death in 1946, Stieglitz worked to promote O’Keeffe and her work. As early as the mid-1920s, when O’Keeffe first began painting her well-known, large-scale and close-up depictions of flowers, she had become recognized as one of America’s most important and successful artists. Three years after Stieglitz’s death, O'Keeffe moved permanently from New York to New Mexico, whose stunning vistas and stark landscape configurations had inspired her work since 1929. She continued to work in oil until the mid-1970s, when failing eyesight forced her to abandon painting. After that point, she worked in pencil and watercolor until 1982, and produced objects in clay until her health failed in 1984. She died in 1986 at the age of 98.
Exhibition Organization and Support
“Georgia O’Keeffe and the Women of the Stieglitz Circle” is co-organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico. This exhibition is made possible by the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts as part of the American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius initiative. Additional funding comes from the National Council of the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and The Burnett Foundation. It is supported in Atlanta by The Buckhead Community Bank, Corporate Environments, Larson-Juhl, and SmartSamantha.com. This exhibition is part of the “Women in Art” series, sponsored by Turner Broadcasting, which celebrates the significant contributions of women in the arts.
Exhibition Tour and Catalogue
Following its presentation at the High Museum, the exhibition will be on view at the San Diego Museum of Art, (May 24—September 28, 2008).The exhibition premieres at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum September 21, 2007 and will be on view in Santa Fe through January 13, 2008, A scholarly book by guest curator Kathleen Pyne, Professor of the History of Art at the University of Notre Dame, titled “Modernism and the Feminine Voice: O’Keeffe and the Women of the Stieglitz Circle” (University of California Press, 2006), accompanies the exhibition.
High Museum of Art
The High Museum of Art, founded in 1905 as the Atlanta Art Association, is the leading art museum in the southeastern United States. With more than 11,000 works of art in its permanent collection, the High Museum of Art has an extensive anthology of 19th- and 20th-century American art; significant holdings of European paintings and decorative art; a growing collection of African American art; and burgeoning collections of modern and contemporary art, photography and African art. The High is also dedicated to supporting and collecting works by Southern artists and is distinguished as the only major museum in North America to have a curatorial department specifically devoted to the field of folk and self-taught art. The High’s Media Arts department produces acclaimed annual film series and festivals of foreign, independent and classic cinema. In November 2005, the High opened three new buildings by architect Renzo Piano that more than doubled the Museum’s size, creating a vibrant “village for the arts” at the Woodruff Arts Center in Midtown Atlanta. For more information about the High, please visit www.High.org.
The Woodruff Arts Center
The Woodruff Arts Center is the largest arts center in the Southeast as well as one of the four largest in the nation. The Woodruff is unique in that it combines five visual and performing arts divisions on one campus as one not-for-profit organization. Opened in 1968, the Woodruff Arts Center is home to the Alliance Theatre, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the High Museum of Art, Young Audiences and the 14th Street Playhouse.
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