Iconic painter and American modernist Georgia O’Keeffe (1887 – 1986), the wife of Alfred Stieglitz, is among other things known for taking the feminist practice of painting flowers to a whole new and higher level in the first part of the 20. century. She is also famouse for painting the landscapes of the American South West and today she is often compared with Andy Warholl for having an iconic personality which has overshadowed her work. Her sensual paintings are an important part of the feminist art history in the 20. century and inadvertedly she became a role model for a new generation of feminist artist later in her life.
The above slideshow presents some of her magnificient botanical compositions of the flowers and vegetables from her garden.
The opera lovers shout ‘Bravo!’ when they have heard a great opera aria. Eso!! the tango dancers’ acclamation, was the first thought that came to me, when I learned that MoMA has started looking the role, which women has played in the history of Museum of Modern Art in New York and realized that the MoMA has neglected telling the story about the female (feminist) artists. After 5 years of research they have published a richly illustrated art book/lexicon titled: Modern Women – women artists at the Museum of Modern Art. 48 scollars have contributed to the book with essays about women artists.
Modern Women: Women Artists at The Museum of Modern Art
The landmark publication ‘Modern Women: Women Artists at The Museum of Modern Art’, in which the museum now openly discusses gender issues, and how instrumental women have been in advancing the arts to where they are today, is the greatest piece of art news, which I have heard in 2010. – Now the museum is finally taking all the feminist artists, who have voiced their concern about the museums (subconscious or deliberate) strategy of giving more space and attention to male artists than women artists, seriously.
Works of art made by women (straight, lesbian, queer, white, black, or…) tell very interesting stories. Stories, which shouldn’t be forgotten by the museums and the main stream art world. The fact that MoMA, which is a role model for many museums, is about to set a new standard makes me smile and dance at my computer.
In the video below you can hear Michelle Elligott, museum activist and researcher talk about her work with the book Modern Women – women artists at the Museum of Modern Art.
I haven’t got my copy of the book yet, but I have had a quick look at book’s index of artists, (the “MoMA the hall of fame of female artists”), and I have picked the following artists, which may be of interest to lesbian and queer art lovers:
BERENICE ABBOTT (USA, 1898 – 1991), SADIE BENNING (USA, born 1973), CLAUDE CAHUN (France 1894 – 1954), LEONOR FINI (Italy, 1907 – 1996), SU FRIEDRICH (USA, born 1954), EILEEN GRAY (Ireland, 1878, 1976), GUERRILLA GIRLS (American group of radical feminist artists founded in 1985),
BARBARA HAMMER (USA, born 1939), HANNAH HÖCH (Germany, 1889 – 1978), FRIDA KAHLO (Mexico, 1907 – 1954), KÄTHE KOLLWITZ (Germany 1867 – 1945), GERMAINE KRULL (1897 – 1985), AGNES MARTIN (Canada, 1912 – 2004), TINA MODOTTI (Italy, 1896 – 1942), GEORGIA O’KEEFFE (USA, 1887 – 1986), EMILY ROYSDON (USA, 1977), CINDY SHERMAN (USA, born 1954), JOAN SNYDER (USA, born 1940), GINGER BROOKS TAKAHASHI (USA, born 1977), and RIDYKEULOUS (an American collaborative art project founded by A.L. Steiner and Nicole Eisenman).
Modern Women: Women Artists at The Museum of Modern Art
Cornelia Butler (Editor, Introduction), Alexandra Schwartz (Editor), Griselda Pollock (Introduction)
Hardcover: 512 pages
Publisher: The Museum of Modern Art, New York (June 30, 2010)
For years I have assumed that famous American painter Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) was bisexual. Now I am not so sure any more because, I can’t find any reliable souces about her female friends having been her girlfriends. What I see is a mirage and public image, which has turned into a strong brand due to the photos that was taken of her.
The famous American photographer and curator Alfred Stieglitz, whom she married in 1924, started photographing her in 1917. He made some wonderful nude photos of her and continued to make some portraits of her seminude in front of her paintings in the 1920’ies. At the same time (in the mid 1920’ies) she was painting her amazing abstract flower paintings, close ups of red cannas white lilies, black irises, etc. Paintings which often are interpretated as erotic images … vulvas.
Stieglitz had presented his nude photos of her at his retrospective exhibition in 1921 and this made the critics see Georgia as a sexual being and interpreted her paintings as erotic images. Georgia didn’t like this label, but ever since her flower paintings has been interpreted as images visualizing love and feelings associated with sexuality.
I think that the fact that lesbian communities were more or less void of erotic art and images for women for many years is the reason why I/we have nurtured the idea that Georgia was bisexual and thus ‘one of our
artists’. If not one of us… then at least she was beautiful woman (Stieglitz’s nudes of her were stunningly beautiful!) and she was a woman, who painted paintings for us: Paintings that reflects the power of our sexuality.
The public image which Steiglitz created of Georgia as a painter and a sexual being appealed to us… a brand with a lesbian appeal.
Georgia O'Keeffe and the Camera: The Art of Identity
American artists from Alfred Stieglitz to Andy Warhol have been enthralled by the image of Georgia O’Keeffe as a woman, painter, and celebrity. She has been photographed numerous times. ‘Georgia O’Keeffe and the Camera: The Art of Identity’ is the first exhibition to explore the close relationship between her art and photographs taken of her. Georgia O’Keeffe and the Camera: The Art of Identity (June 12 through September 7, 2008, the Portland Museum of Art) explored the essential role that photography played in establishing her reputation, promoting her career, and creating her public persona.
Narrator: Barbara Buhler Lynes, curator, Georgia O’Keefe Museum, 2008.
The Exhibition Catalogue
Georgia O’Keeffe and the Camera: The Art of Identity (Portland Museum of Art)
Publisher: Yale University Press (June 28, 2008)
Georgia's home in Abiquiu
The O’Keeffe home in Abiquiu is managed by the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe. Through the museum you can reserve a tour and be part of a select few, who are able to tour the home from early spring through the late fall. Tours last an hour and are limited to 12 people at a time.
Related Link The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Current exhibition at the museum:
Georgia O’Keeffe – Abstraction, May 28, 2010 – September 12, 2010
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 Whitney.org.
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.