Thursday, May 25, 2017

AGO: Georgia O'Keefe: Tuesday, May 23 2017

The Georgia O'Keefe exhibition being staged at present by the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), is up to the usual international standard. O'Keefe's life is laid out to show the influences on her creative processes, and there is a good cross-section of her output to give a broad perspective on her work. O'Keefe is know as the "Mother of American Modernism." She was a true artist, in that she developed her own vision, and presented her own authentic view of life. This exhibition helps place her at the forefront of the development of artistic thinking, and shows her true greatness. All that can be said is that she was a great painter, and this is all she wanted to be said.

I loved her paintings of New York. She caught the vibrant mood, and exciting new vistas of a modern city. Her abstracts are full of emotion, and can give rise to many thoughts in the viewer. Her floral studies are gorgeous, and remind of the prolific generosity and beauty of nature. The blue of the sky of New Mexico fills her paintings and throws into contrast the red hills and bare bones to be found around Santa Fe. She seems to warn that life is to be enjoyed while we have it, as its vibrance too soon vanishes into the dust. Georgia O'Keefe laid great stress on following one's own path in creating art. She had been well-trained, and built on that to develop her own view of the world. Her work is unique.

Having studied photography at one time, I was fascinated by her relationship with Alfred Stieglitz, the great photographer. The exhibition of his photographs, and those of another great photographer, Robert Adams, interested me greatly. It appeared that Georgia O'Keefe's own work had benefitted from her contact with the work of these artists. I had been unaware of their close association, but this explained her strong compositions and the framing of her pictures.

Georgia also followed her own road in the affairs of the heart. She developed a relationship with Alfred Stieglitz even although he was married at the time. She moved to New York city, at his request, in 1918. They married in 1924, although she wasn't altogether happy to do so. She never did adopt the conventional role of house slave that wives were expected to follow at that time. Stieglitz must have been happy with their bond as they remained married until his death in 1946.

Altogether, another fantastic exhibition shown by the AGO.

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