Sunday, July 10, 2016

Georgia O'Keeffe at Tate Modern - a review of the exhibition reviews

The Georgia O'Keeffe exhibition - which includes the most expensive painting by a woman sold at auction - opened at Tate Modern last week.
Tate Modern presents the largest retrospective of modernist painter Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) ever to be shown outside of America. Tate
I'm a huge fan of her work but have not been to see it yet. So I thought I'd do a round-up of:
  • the reviews to see what the general conclusions are so far.  I'm actually amazed at the number of so-called serious art journals etc who have ignored this exhibition
  • all my previous blog posts about Georgia O'Keeffe - following an intensive study of her work - which are listed at the end of this post.
The exhibition is on until 30 October 2016 and is open daily 10.00 – 18.00 and until 22.00 on Friday and Saturday. For more information about the Tate or the exhibition For public information call +44 (0)20 7887 8888, visit, follow @tate #Tate2016

Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 1932 by Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986)
(Oil paint on canvas 48 x 40 inches) 
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Arkansas, USA
Photography by Edward C. Robison III
© 2016 Georgia O'Keeffe Museum/DACS, London
This is said to be "the most expensive painting by a woman"
- it sold at Sotheby's for $44.4 million in 2014

Media response

I've included a quotation from each review which attempts to indicate the tenor of the review.  I've put the RECOMMENDED reads first.

Watch out for the tired old cliches about female anatomy used by some.
When people read erotic symbols in my paintings, they’re really talking about their own affairs,she said.

UK Media

The major retrospective of Georgia O’Keeffe’s work that opened this week at Tate Modern in London is a rare opportunity for British viewers to engage with this revered American artist.
This blockbuster retrospective seeks to show there is more to Georgia O’Keeffe than anodyne prints, signature aprons and sexual stereotypes – but her own gorgeous, awkward art compounds the cliches
after such a long wait for a British retrospective, this one is peculiarly disappointing, not least because it is padded out with numerous photographs and flaccid paintings.
In the art world, women are simply worth less. And not just financially. Throughout art history women have consistently been ignored. But modernism would be an entirely different beast without O’Keeffe.
  • Culture Whisper - Georgia O'Keeffe, Tate Modern - awards 4* and asks where are all the flowers and then  points out that they are but a small part of her total output.
Revelatory it certainly is for those who thought O’Keeffe was either brazenly or innocently preoccupied with painting sexually suggestive flowers: they make up less than 5% of O’Keeffe’s artistic output.

American media

O’Keeffe, for her part, found the emphasis on her gender overblown. As early as 1922, she was peeved. “They make me seem like some strange unearthly sort of creature floating in the air—breathing in clouds for nourishment—when the truth is that I like beef steak—and I like it rare.
  • El Paso Times - Georgia O'Keeffe gets big London show - I don't often have cause to quote this one! I liked the openening sentence - the remainder seems to be culled from the press release and previously published material.
Georgia O’Keeffe has come to London, like a bracing American desert wind rippling the River Thames.

More about Georgia O'Keeffe

Back in 2007 I spent a month doing research about the life and work and development of artwork by Georgia O'Keeffe. In part this came from having visited New Mexico and the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe ten years ago - in July 2006.

 Travels with a Sketchbook: 22nd July - Santa Fe and Georgia O'Keeffe is about my visit to the Georgia O'Keeffe museum in Santa Fe. I'd been wanting to go to the museum for a very long time - on the basis that you can't beat seeing art 'up close and personal' as an aid to understanding art - and was not disappointed!

The remainder are blog posts on Making A Mark - starting with the most recent

Portrait photograph of Georgia O'Keeffe
by Alfred Stieglitz in 1918.
What I didn't realise at the time (because I didn't do the maths!) was that although she decided she wanted to become an artist age 10, she actually didn't become a full-time artist until she was in her fourth decade.
"Nothing is less real than realism...details are is only by selection, by elimination, by emphasis that we get at the real meaning of things"
Georgia O'Keeffe 1976
  • Georgia O'Keeffe month: Two white irises (and three buds) (June 2007) Includes my conclusions about her flower paintings following a read of "Georgia O'Keeffe Museum Collections (Volume 2)" by Barbara Buhler Lynes at Kew Gardens. 
  • Georgia O'Keeffe Month: Macro Flowers (June 2007) - beginning a month spent studying the artwork of Georgia O'Keeffe. If you ever want to get to know an artist I highly recommend spending an intensive month getting to know their work.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting the reviews of the Georgia O' Keeffe exhibition. It is
    was interesting and informative to read them. I have always enjoyed her
    sense of composition and use of color. O'Keeffe was able to get to the
    essence of place I gravitate towards her landscape paintings as well as her
    abstracts. In my opinion I think that O'Keeffe is an under appreciated
    still life painter. I have found her compositions in these paintings to
    be incredible. I hope that many artists in the UK will be going to this
    exhibition not only for the beautiful art but to learn from her paintings
    about composition, color and how to create a sense of place. O'Keeffe also
    was very meticulous in her craft, the application of paint on the canvas
    and other materials used.


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