The Beyond, Part 2, NC Art Museum

For part 1, click here.

The North Carolina Art Museum recently hosted an exhibit of work by American artist Georgia O’Keeffe and and contemporary artists whose work was influenced by O’Keeffe.  There were some really nice works, some where you can see how O’Keeffe’s work influenced the artist and some that, frankly, I felt was reaching to find common ground.

Let’s start with a couple where I can actually see the influence of Georgia O’Keeffe.  First up is this wonderful painting by American and Israeli artist Sharona Eliassaf.  Eliassaf, like O’Keeffe, is fascinated by her surroundings, and the city landscapes of New York are some of her favorite subjects.  This painting, entitled Stars to Dust, Dust to Stars, is reminiscent of  O’Keeffe’s New York paintings.  I love the bright colors and the art deco influence.

It’s interesting to compare Loie Holloway’s paintings to those of Georgia O’Keeffe.  Holloway acknowledges O’Keeffe’s influence on her art, especially in the abstract sexuality in their works.  O’Keeffe’s paintings of flowers were, according to art critics, modernistic paintings of female genitalia.  Holloway’s favorite subject is genitalia, although in abstract form.  Here’s The Land’s Part, from 2017, by Loie Holloway.

 

Canadian artist Caroline Larsen’s works are quite unique.  Larsen applies the paint much the same way a baker applies frosting to cakes, using piping bags and squeezing the paint through metal nibs onto the canvas.  The result is beautiful work that is reminiscent of beading.

Like O’Keeffe, Larsen draws inspiration from the desert.  In Larsen’s case, she focuses on the little man-made oases that spot the desert.  While the two artists works are quite different, I find it interesting that, despite the different styles, the buildings in both of these works share similar colors.

Kim Keever’s abstracts are reminiscent of O’Keeffe’s floral paintings.  I like the muted colors of Keever’s photographs, which are created by pouring pigments into a large tank of water.  Because of the fleeting nature of the pigments, Keever has to work quickly to capture the smoky, dreamlike images.  His work is quite beautiful.

Matthew Ronay is a New York-based folk artist who hand-carved sculptures are both whimsical and beautiful.  Ronay acknowledges O’Keeffe’s as an inspiration.  His abstract sculptures can be rocks, plants, or body parts.  In this way, his art is like similar to O’Keeffe’s abstract works.  I love the colors and the fluidity of shape in his work.

There are so many beautiful works in the exhibit that I’ll continue with a third post soon.

Georgia O’Keeffe, The Beyond, NC Art Museum

Georgia O’Keeffe was one of the most influential artists in America.  Known as the “mother of American modernism”, she’s most famous for her paintings of flowers and her landscapes of her adopted home of New Mexico.  The recent exhibit at the North Carolina Art Museum did a great job of showcasing her art as well as the art of young painters who have been inspired by O’Keeffe.  Here we’ll focus on O’Keeffe’s work and will touch on the works of the other artists in a future post.

O’Keeffe was born in Wisconsin in 1887 and, after several years teaching throughout Virginia, South Carolina and Texas, she moved to New York in 1918 after meeting photographer Alfred Stieglitz.  Stieglitz promoted and exhibited her art and the two developed a personal relationship that eventually led to their marriage in 1924. Though they remained married until Stieglitz’s death in 1946, the couple separated when Stieglitz began an affair with photographer Dorothy Norman.   The infidelity was the impetus behind O’Keeffe’s move to New Mexico.

georgia o'keeffe

O’Keeffe career spanned many decades and, despite failing eyesight, she continued working well into her nineties.  She passed away in New Mexico at the age of ninety-eight and her ashes were scattered at her beloved Ghost Ranch, her home since 1940.

While O’Keeffe’s long career saw her work cover a great many subjects, there are a few for which she is best known.  Her flowers earned her early fame, possibly helped by art historians who felt her flowers were metaphors for female genitalia.  I guess if people can see the Virgin Mary in a piece of toast, anything is possible.

georgia o'keeffe- petunias- 1925

While married to Stieglitz, O’Keeffe spent time at his home at Lake George as well as in New York City.  Her modernist paintings from this period are quite interesting.  Her work was inspired by her surroundings, both at Lake George and in the City.  This painting of the Radiator Building is a great example of her work from the period.  The dark colors and sharp angles are a big change from her flowers.

georgia o'keeffe- radiator building, night, new york- 1927

After her move to New Mexico, her the land around her became her focus.  She loved New Mexico and her art shows it.  Landscapes, animal bones and even rocks became the subjects of her paintings.  This is probably the time period O’Keeffe is best known for.  I’m not sure what I like best from this period.  The landscapes are great but the paintings of animal bones are very surreal and appeal to me.  Here’s Horse Skull with Pink Rose.

georgia o'keeffe- horse skull with pink rose

My Backyard, from 1937, is a prime example of her New Mexico landscapes.

georgia o'keeffe- my backyard- 1937

A couple other O’Keeffe works that were part of the exhibit caught my attention.  First, an untitled sculpture stood out because O’Keeffe wasn’t known for sculpture.  The one on exhibit was striking.

georgia o'keeffe- untitled sculpture

Finally, her abstract paintings were quite stunning.  I really like abstract art and O’Keeffe’s were great.  I loved her Abstraction Blue from 1927, but I was especially drawn to the title piece of the exhibit, The Beyond, from 1972.  O’Keeffe was in her eighties at this point, and her eyesight was failing.  This painting was one of her last oil paintings and is beautiful.

georgia o'keeffe- the beyond- 1972

There were many interesting paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe exhibited as part of The Beyond.  There were also many paintings and sculptures by artists inspired by O’Keeffe.  I’ll highlight some of them in the next post.