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Georgia O'Keeffe and New Mexico: A Sense of Place

October 5, 2004 - January 16, 2005


(above Georgia O'Keeffe Black Mesa Landscape, New Mexico / Out Back of Marie's II, 1930. oil on canvas mounted to board, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, NM. Gift of the Burnett Foundation. © The Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation.)

On view at the Columbus Museum of Art October 5, 2004 through January 16, 2005, Georgia O'Keeffe and New Mexico: A Sense of Place is the first exhibition to highlight O'Keeffe's celebrated New Mexico landscapes. Because this unique exhibition includes paintings that have long been in private collections and combines them with photographs of the actual locations, it provides an opportunity to view works by O'Keeffe that have seldom been available to the public in such a fascinating format. The exhibition was organized by the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum and is supported by the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum National Advisory Council.

Georgia O'Keeffe was instantly drawn to New Mexico's unusual and starkly beautiful landscape from the moment she first saw it in 1917. Beginning in 1929, she spent part of almost every year painting there -- first in Taos, and subsequently in and around Alcalde, Abiquiu, and Ghost Ranch. In an interview many years later she recalled: "From then on, I was always trying to get back there and in 1929 I finally made it." She also made occasional excursions to remote sites she found particularly compelling, such as the strikingly barren, nearly monochromatic hills 150 miles west of Abiquiu. Calling this area the Black Place, O'Keeffe painted it many times during the 1940s. In 1949, three years after the death of her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, O'Keeffe made New Mexico her permanent home. (right: Photograph of site of Cedar Tree with Lavender Hills, 1937. Photo credit: Malcolm Varon.)

A Sense of Place documents O'Keeffe's extraordinary ability to capture the contours, colors, and textures of the land that fascinated her while remaining true to her life-long interest in and commitment to exploring issues of abstraction. Included in the exhibition are works from the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum collection, such as Black Mesa Landscape / Out Back of Marie's II (1930), and rarely seen images from private collections, including Lavender Hill Forms (1930) and Hill, New Mexico (1935).

According to Columbus Museum of Art Curator of American Art Mark Cole, "A Sense of Place showcases spectacular paintings by Georgia O'Keeffe and provides a wealth of insight into the creative genius of this great American painter by juxtaposing the paintings with accompanying photographs of actual sites."

In addition to displaying approximately 40 paintings that O'Keeffe depicted from 1929 to the early 1950s, the exhibition presents color photographs of 20 actual sites. Though O'Keeffe's paintings of New Mexico landscapes have often been mistaken for imagined images, they are closely based on actual landforms. Thus, the exhibition provides a new perspective from which to understand the relationship between the sources of her work and the works themselves.

An accompanying exhibition catalogue, published by Princeton University Press, includes color reproductions of all works and photographs in the exhibition and offers essays by Barbara Buhler Lynes, curator of the exhibition, who has written extensively on O'Keeffe and her work, and noted authors, Lesley Poling-Kempes, and Frederick W. Turner. These essays discuss O'Keeffe's paintings and their relationship to the places that inspired her, the geology of the region from which her landscape paintings derive, and the ways in which her detachment from the Santa Fe art community enhanced her presence as a force within it. (right: Georgia O'Keeffe, Cedar Tree with Lavender Hills, 1937. oil on canvas, Private Collection.)


Editor's note:

On October 9, 2006 Rob Craig, Executive Director of Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, NM, generously toured John and Barbara Hazeltine around the Ghost Ranch. He afforded them the opportunity on that rare rainy day to photograph the Ghost Ranch environment in which Georgia O'Keeffe painted several famous landscapes. Below and above right are selections from the series of photographs taken that day. The residence shown is that of Ms. O'Keeffe. All photos © 2006 by Barbara Hazeltine. The Ghost Ranch may be contacted at (505) 685-4333 for tours and other information.








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