Georgia O'Keeffe: Abstraction at the Whitney Museum of American Art

Painter Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986) has become a gay icon – especially because of her husband, famous American photographer Alfred Stieglitz’s very sensual nude photos of her, which created a public sensation, when he opened an exhibition that included some of them in 1921.
Her sexually independent manner set her outside the norms of conventional feminine behaviour. And other women were attracted to her. Her abstract paintings from the mid-1920’ies of flowers look like veiled representations of female genitalia and prominent art historians have later linked her work to feminist artists of the 1970’ies.

The Whitney press release reads:

“Although Georgia O’Keeffe 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 favour 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, watercolours, 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.

The exhibition ‘Georgia O’Keeffe: Abstraction’ runs through January 17, 2010 at Whitney Museum of American Art, 945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street, New York, NY 10021. Read more about the exhibition on

Next year ‘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.

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