Georgia O’Keeffe and Her Photographer Friends

The First Solo Retrospective in France for the painter Georgia O'Keeffe.

The Exhibition Schedule

  • Museum of Grenoble

    Nov 7, 2015 - Feb 7, 2016

As the first solo show in France to be devoted to the American painter Georgia
O’Keeffe, the exhibition scheduled this autumn at the Musée de Grenoble is
an outstanding event. Put on with the participation of the Georgia O’Keeffe
Museum in Santa Fe (New Mexico, USA), and the backing of the French
Regional American Museum Exchange [FRAME], it goes back over the career
of an icon of American art, who is as famous in the United States as Jackson
Pollock. From her earliest works in New York to when she settled in New Mexico
in 1949, Georgia O’Keeffe was greatly influenced by modern photography.
To encompass this factor, the exhibition will create a dialogue between her
paintings and her photographer friends, forming a total selection of 90 works
coming from fifteen prestigious international museums, as well as from
major German, Spanish and French institutions.

Marie-Christine Labourdette gives opening remarks for the exhibition. Photo by Emilie Vonhaesebroucke

Georgia O’Keeffe has a special place in the American art context. Her eminently
recognizable paintings have a distinctive immediacy, due to the sensuality
of their colours and the clarity of the motifs which lodge emphatically in the
memory. The power of these images, which question the visible, has to do with
the confusion created by enigmatic forms, often wavering between abstraction
and figuration. In the 1920s, the artist came to notice through paintings of
flowers and buildings, imbued with photographic realism. She then assimilated
the precisionist aesthetics of the painters in the Stieglitz circle—Arthur Dove,
John Marin, Charles Demuth and Marsden Hartley—and duly produced a
unique formal repertory, deeply marked by her life in the New Mexico desert. In
the 1960s, in spiritual communion with her southwest environment, O’Keeffe
painted abstract compositions, whose formal purity and tonal sensuality
echoed the works of Mark Rothko, Ellsworth Kelly and Agnes Martin.

Guy Tosatto addresses the public at the opening. Photo by Emilie Vonhaesebroucke

Born in 1887, in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, at a very early age O’Keeffe developed
a personal body of work inspired by the endless plains of Texas and marked by
the arabesques of Art Nouveau. After her meeting with the photographer Alfred
Stieglitz, champion of the avant-gardes, she settled in New York in 1918 and
devoted her time entirely to her work. As the photographer’s muse and then
wife, in 1924 O’Keeffe discovered the European avant-garde at the 291 Gallery,
and spent time with the Stieglitz circle.

As the outcome of her powerful individualistic personality, her unique oeuvre
found its sources in nature. Somewhere between abstraction and figuration,
her work developed in series, based on a resolutely modernist stance. Her
compositions came about above all from her observation of the world. First
it was the skies of Texas, the mountains of Lake George, the buildings of New
York, and flowers. In 1929, the artist chose to spend her summers in Santa Fe,
before moving permanently to New Mexico in 1949. From then on she lived in
close communion with nature, relishing the solitude of those wide open spaces,
and going on drives through the desert. That experience drew out new subjects:
vernacular architecture. canyons, bones, skies and rivers.

Gallery Photo Photo by Emilie Vonhaesebroucke

Throughout her career, O’Keeffe paid close attention to the developments of
modern photography. The photographic vision that she adopted partly explains
the strength of her images. So staking out the exhibition circuit, over and above
the famous photos taken by Stieglitz, who was the first to grasp the artist’s
beauty, seven photographers who influenced her painted oeuvre, and whom
she in turn influenced—Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Edward Weston, Imogen
Cunningham, Ansel Adams, Eliot Porter and Todd Webb—will be on view. With
them Georgia O’Keeffe shared not only a common store of motifs but also
certain favourite places—New York, New Mexico—which forged their respective
ways of looking at the world.

Exhibition curators
Guy Tosatto, chief curator, director of the Musée de Grenoble
Sophie Bernard, curator, in charge of the modern and contemporary collections.

Press Contact

Regional media
Marianne Taillibert - musée de Grenoble 5 place de Lavalette 38 000 Grenoble
04 76 63 44 11 marianne.taillibert@grenoble.fr
National media
Caroline Vaisson - Claudine Colin Communication 28 rue de Sévigné 75 004 Paris
01 42 72 60 01 caroline@claudinecolin.com