Georgia O’Keeffe 1887-1986
I found Georgia O’Keeffe more interesting than her paintings. I didn’t often feel any fire in the work which may be due to the way she painted, the flatness of application and opacity of the colours. I found much more passion in her thoughts and thinking through the quotes dotted around the show
Wonderful photographs, in the show, by her husband Alfred Stieglitz, who photographed her nearly ever day.
She lived a good long life and her work crossed figuration and abstraction. The strength of her personality comes across in her determination to follow her own road despite the comments of the critics.
‘I have things in my head that are not like what anyone has taught me… I decided to start anew – to strip away what I had been taught…I began with charcoal and paper and decided not to use any other colour until it was impossible to do what I wanted to do in black and white.’
Her early work is more abstract with a strong Deco feeling and often has overtones of the human female figure to most viewers.
‘When people read erotic symbols into my paintings, they’re really talking about their own affairs’
One of my favourite pieces of work from the show is ‘My Last Door 1952-54’… Below’s example is taken from a book so please excuse the curved lines of the image.
My Last Door 1952-54.
So simple, dramatic and balanced. It has echoes of Kasimir Malevich’s Black Square work painted in 1915. You can feel the heat of the day too.
Oriental Poppies 1927
Some of her best work are her large flower paintings and this one in particular is marvellous. The sheer scale of the flowers turns the work into an abstract particular on viewing at close quarters.
And finally a couple of landscapes, the first with a bone in the forefront echoing the landscape beyond and playing with scale the second one which is almost abstracted before she painted it.
She clearly looked around her world and picked up on the beautiful…
‘I wish you could see what I see out the windows – the earth pink and yellow cliffs to the north – the full pale moon about to go down in an early morning lavender sky behind a very long beautiful tree – covered mesa to the west – pink and purple hills in front and the scrubby fine dull green cedars – and a feeling of much space – it is a very beautiful world’.
Interesting review by Adrian Searle in The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/jul/04/georgia-o-keeffe-review-tate-modern-retrospective
All quotes from The Tate promotional leaflet.