Saturday, February 15, 2014

O'Keeffe at Lake George

A show of pretty paintings but one which glosses over her place in the art world of the 1920's, what influenced her, her training and how much Stieglitz as responsible for her success. O'Keeffe was a master at letting other people decide was her paintings meant and then, declaring that wasn't what she meant at all.


The show displays her famous flower paintings, painted when she was at her most sexual in her affair with Steiglitz but then says that they really aren't sexual at all. The stamen, pistil and pollen of flowers are there to attract bees and to help the flowers reproduce. O'Keeffe repudiated any idea that they were sexual but only after that intrepretation had brought her financial and commercial success. She was never one to back off from a controversy which helped promote her career.

"Alfred Stieglitz (1864–1946) is perhaps the most important figure in the history of visual arts in America. That is certainly not to say that he was the greatest artist America has ever produced. Rather, through his many roles – as a photographer, as a discoverer and promoter of photographers and of artists in other media, and as a publisher, patron, and collector – he had a greater impact on American art than any other person has had." Whelan, Richard (2000). Stieglitz on Photography: His Selected Essays and Notes. NY: Aperture. p. ix.

But the show at the de Young doesn't do more than skim the surface of the real O'Keeffe. It just adds another layer of misleading or incomplete information to her myth as the great, solitary American painter. 

Modern Nature: Georgia O'Keeffe and Lake George at the de Young. Now open

1 comment:

Rubye Jack said...

Much of what see in art is through our own projections, what we bring to the piece as a viewer. I never did see female body parts in her work until I heard about it elsewhere. I enjoy her work and see O'Keefe as a great artist but don't see labia unless I'm looking specifically for it.