….but we are all fabulous.
I went to the Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition at the Tate Modern earlier this week and was mesmerised. I had not known much of her work before other than the flower paintings, but the 13 rooms of her work demonstrated how much more she was about than just that.
Georgia O’Keeffe – Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 (1932)
I was captivated from the very first room which contained early charcoal abstract drawings. They really spoke to me at some level and I remember thinking that if I was an artist, this is what I would have drawn.
Georgia O’Keeffe – Special No. 15 (1916) and Special No. 17 (1919)
That feeling of connection continued throughout the exhibition, only waning a little when she entered her skull-drawing phase. Other favourites of mine included the New York pictures, the painting of Lake George and the paintings of her property in New Mexico. I found her work to be rich and sensual and compelling.
Georgia O’Keeffe (clockwise from top left) – My Last Door (1952–4), New York Street with Moon (1925), Lake George (1922)
In addition to the artwork itself, the text and accompanying audio guide in which we heard from Ms O’Keeffe herself really brought the artist to life.
Alfred Stieglitz – Georgia o’Keeffe (1918)
The text hinted at a somewhat challenging relationship with the art dealer Stieglitz who she loved and married but whose presentation of her art work as having erotic themes, was at odds with her own narrative about her work. She asserted her independence by visiting and buying property in New Mexico and this became the subject of more of her work.
Georgia O’Keeffe – Black Cross with Stars and Blue (1929)
Through this wonderful exhibition, Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) came across as a real person, with complex issues in her life, rather than as an abstract person. I bought the brief but excellent Tate Introduction to her life and work and indeed, Stieglitz was unfaithful, discouraged her from having the children she wanted and she also suffered from various health problems. But O’Keeffe was a strong woman who knew her own mind and as she said herself “I have lived the life I wanted to”.
Georgia O’Keeffe – Sky Above Clouds IV (1965)
Georgia O’Keeffe at the Tate Modern is on until 3oth October 2016. http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/georgia-okeeffe