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Georgia O'Keeffe and the Women of the Stieglitz Circle

February 9 - May 4, 2008


"Georgia O'Keeffe and the Women of the Stieglitz Circle" places the iconic work of O'Keeffe in the fresh context of artistic predecessors in the circle of her husband, the photographer Alfred Stieglitz. The exhibition reveals how various women artists in the Stieglitz circle paved the way for O'Keeffe's emergence in 1915. The exhibition features approximately 90 paintings, drawings and photographs by Georgia O'Keeffe, as well as Pamela Colman Smith, Katharine Nash Rhoades, Georgia Engelhard, Gertrude Käsebier, Anne Brigman and Alfred Stieglitz.

Co-organized by the High Museum of Art and the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, N.M., "Georgia O'Keeffe and the Women of the Stieglitz Circle" debuts in Santa Fe before traveling to the High Museum and the San Diego Museum of Art.

"Georgia O'Keeffe is one of the most iconic and highly-regarded artists of the 20th-century," said Michael E. Shapiro, Nancy and Holcomb T. Green, Jr. Director, High Museum of Art. "This innovative exhibition will provide new insight into her work in the context of her less-examined predecessors in Stieglitz's circle, and will introduce audiences to the groundbreaking role these women played in paving the way for future generations of artists."

The work of Georgia O'Keeffe and her contemporaries laid the groundwork for the idea that women artists possessed a powerful creativity equal to that of men, and their stunning images convinced Alfred Stieglitz and his New York audiences that women could reveal a new and uniquely feminine perspective on modern experience. Each of the artists represented in "Georgia O'Keeffe and the Women of the Stieglitz Circle" at one time embodied Stieglitz's philosophy of the woman modernist, through their lives and their distinctive forms of artistic expression.

Dating from roughly the first three decades of the 20th century, the featured works in the exhibition, including 30 by O'Keeffe, explore modern "feminine" themes such as: a pastoral world of mothers and children; the female nude symbolizing the drama of the New Woman's struggle for independence; abstractions of mood from the unconscious mind; and nature as a paradise vis-à-vis the child's intuitive vision of the world. The exhibition also includes two special groupings -- a selection of Stieglitz photographs of his wife, O'Keeffe, representing the modernist ideal of the expressive woman-child, and a series of O'Keeffe's red canna floral imagery, one of which ("Red Canna," 1921) is owned by the High.


The Women of the Stieglitz Circle

Women artists featured in this exhibition include photographers Gertrude Käsebier and Anne Brigman, and painters Pamela Colman Smith and Katharine Nash Rhoades. Gertrude Käsebier was born in 1852 in Iowa. After moving to New York, she became known for her work as a portrait photographer, focusing primarily on the theme of motherhood. Kasebier was a founding member of the Photo-Secessionist group dedicated to promoting photography as a fine art. Born in Hawaii in 1869, Anne Brigman was also one of the founding members the Photo-Secessionist group. She was known for dramatic photographs of nude women in natural landscapes. Painter Pamela Colman Smith is best known for creating the design for the Rider-Waite-Smith deck of tarot cards. Born in 1878 in London, Smith later studied at the Pratt Institute. While in New York, Stieglitz mounted an exhibition of Smith's work, the first show by a non-photographer at the gallery. Katharine Nash Rhoades was born in 1885 in New York. A poet and a painter, her paintings were exhibited at Stieglitz's 291 Gallery. Rhoades later become a key decision-maker at the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. in its first decade.


Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz

Georgia O'Keeffe was born on November 15, 1887, in Sun Prairie, Wis. She studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Art Students League, New York. In 1908, she won the League's William Merritt Chase still-life prize for her oil painting "Untitled"("Dead Rabbit with Copper Pot"). In 1915, O'Keeffe began a series of abstract charcoal drawings, now recognized as being among the most innovative of their kind. She mailed them to a former classmate, Anita Pollitzer, who showed them to the internationally known photographer and art impresario, Alfred Stieglitz. In 1918, O'Keeffe moved to New York. She and Stieglitz married in 1924.

From 1923 until his death in 1946, Stieglitz worked to promote O'Keeffe and her work. As early as the mid-1920s, when O'Keeffe first began painting her well-known, large-scale and close-up depictions of flowers, she had become recognized as one of America's most important and successful artists. Three years after Stieglitz's death, O'Keeffe moved permanently from New York to New Mexico, whose stunning vistas and stark landscape configurations had inspired her work since 1929. She continued to work in oil until the mid-1970s, when failing eyesight forced her to abandon painting. After that point, she worked in pencil and watercolor until 1982, and produced objects in clay until her health failed in 1984. She died in 1986 at the age of 98. 


DIrectors' foreward from the catalogue

Modernism and the Feminine Voice: O'Keeffe and the Women of the Stieglitz Circle

The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum and the High Museum of Art are honored to have collaborated on the presentation of Georgia O'Keeffe and the Women of the Stieglitz Circle. The exhibition derives from this important book by Kathleen Pyne, Modernism and the Feminine Voice: O'Keeffe and the Women of the Stieglitz Circle. Professor Pyne completed aspects of her study in 2001 as a scholar-in-residence at the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum Research Center, Santa Fe. She subsequently served as guest curator for this exhibition in collaboration with Barbara Buhler Lynes, Curator, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, and Sylvia Yount, Margaret and Terry Stent Curator of American Art, High Museum of Art. We wish to thank them all for their vital efforts in realizing the exhibition. We also want to acknowledge the assistance of Kaaren Boullosa, Heather Hole, and Judy Chiba Smith of the O'Keeffe Museum and that of Nicole Smith, Marjorie Harvey, Amy Simon, Akela Reason, and Laurie Carter of the High Museum. Following its presentation in Santa Fe, the exhibition will travel to the High, in Atlanta, and then to the San Diego Art Museum. We are grateful to our colleagues in San Diego -- particularly Derrick R. Cartwright, the Maruja Baldwin Director, and D. Scott Atkinson, Chief Curator and Curator of American Art -- for their participation in the tour. They join with us in thanking the many private and public lenders who were willing to share their treasured works of art with a wider public. The exhibition has been made possible by the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts as part of the American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius initiative. Additional funding comes from the National Council of the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum and The Burnett Foundation.

This groundbreaking exhibition, with its companion scholarly publication, repositions O'Keeffe" -- the iconic woman artist of twentieth-century modernism -- in the fresh context of artistic predecessors in the circle of her dealer and husband, Alfred Stieglitz. It features approximately ninety paintings, drawings, and photographs by Georgia O'Keeffe, Pamela Colman Smith, Katharine Nash Rhoades, Georgia Engelhard, Gertrude Käsebier, Anne Brigman, and Alfred Stieglitz. This unprecedented look at O'Keeffe -- one of the most popular of all American artists -- in the company of her lesser-known female contemporaries offers viewers a new perspective that raises significant questions about the relationships between femininity, creativity, and modern life. We are excited to introduce our audiences to a group of influential women modernists who preceded and helped ensure O'Keeffe's success. Indeed, it is with great enthusiasm that we present this insightful project, which we believe will contribute to a broader understanding of and appreciation for the work of each individual artist as well as the development of modernism in early twentieth-century America.

George G. King
Director, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum
Michael E. Shapiro
Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr. Director, High Museum of Art


Exhibition Organization and Support

"Georgia O'Keeffe and the Women of the Stieglitz Circle" is co-organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, and the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico. This exhibition is made possible by the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts as part of the American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius initiative. Additional funding comes from the National Council of the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum and The Burnett Foundation. It is supported in Atlanta by The Buckhead Community Bank, Corporate Environments, Larson-Juhl, and SmartSamantha.com. This exhibition is part of the "Women in Art" series, sponsored by Turner Broadcasting, which celebrates the significant contributions of women in the arts.


Exhibition Tour

Following its presentation at the High Museum, the exhibition will be on view at the San Diego Museum of Art, (May 24 - September 28, 2008). The exhibition premiered at the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum September 21, 2007, and was on view in Santa Fe through January 13, 2008. 



A 378 page scholarly book by guest curator Kathleen Pyne, Professor of the History of Art at the University of Notre Dame, titled "Modernism and the Feminine Voice: O'Keeffe and the Women of the Stieglitz Circle" (University of California Press, 2006), accompanies the exhibition. Kathleen Pyne is Professor of the History of Art at the University of Notre Dame and author of Art and the Higher Life: Painting and Evolutionary Thought in Late Nineteenth-Century America.

The University of California Press says of the catalogue

This opulently illustrated book reveals how Alfred Stieglitz's search for a pure, essential "woman in art" led him to several women before his vision found ultimate expression in Georgia O'Keeffe, whom Stieglitz portrayed as the shining, liberated feminine figure of his movement. Modernism and the Feminine Voice explores a group of extraordinary women who developed their voices through an affiliation with the Stieglitz circle -- Gertrude Käsebier, Pamela Colman Smith, Anne Brigman, and Katharine Nash Rhoades -- and shows how these artists helped define the woman modernist through their lives and their individual photographs and paintings. Profoundly revising Stieglitz's story of the woman modernist as embodied in the person and imagery of Georgia O'Keeffe, this pioneering book demonstrates that O'Keeffe was one voice among several which deserve recognition as the vanguard of American modernism. Kathleen Pyne adds fascinating but overlooked material to the history of modernism in New York with this book, which accompanies a major exhibition of the artists' works.
In contrast to previous views of O'Keeffe's self-identity as that of either a forceful, hard-working professional or a strong, erotically charged woman, Pyne posits a new theory, that O'Keeffe had a secret self-identity that was indebted to Stieglitz's notion of the feminine voice as intuitive and childlike yet resistant to his eroticizing. While Stieglitz succeeded in canonizing O'Keeffe as the lone woman artist of modernism in New York, he based his image of O'Keeffe as the ideal woman on the contributions of the earlier women photographers and painters explored here. With abundant illustrations and detailed discussions of each artist's work, this engrossing book argues convincingly that O'Keeffe was not the only woman artist in the Stieglitz circle worthy of our contemplation.

(catalogue information and image courtesy University of California Press)


Please click here to view images and click here to read wall text panels and object labels for the exhibition

Editor's note: RL readers may also enjoy:

approximately 500 other Resource Library pages citing Georgia O'Keeffe and/or Alfred Stieglitz, including pages from:

and from the Web:

online audio:

The National Gallery of Art offers on its web site O'Keeffe on Paper. Barbara Buhler Lynes, co-curator of the exhibition, author of Georgia O'Keeffe: Catalogue Raisonné, curator of the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, and Emily Fisher Landau Director of the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum Research Center, discuss new insights on the stunning watercolors, charcoals, and pastels presented in the exhibition of O'Keeffe's most innovative works on paper. Aired May 6, 2000. (description courtesy NGA)

online video:

From YouTube "Georgia O'Keeffe: Notable New Mexican" (PBS) [06:05]
From YouTube "Georgia O'Keeffe in New Mexico." Footage of the 92 year old Georgia O'Keeffe speaking about her art, taken in and around her home in New Mexico [09:67]
from an online course by Dr. Liana Cheney of the Graduate School of Education at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell titled "Art History and Film," the 46 minute video Georgia O'Keeffe from the Great Women Artist series from Kultur Video
The WGBH/Boston Forum Network includes a number of videos on Art and Architecture. Partners include a number of Boston-area museums, colleges, universities and other cultural organizations. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston partnered with the Forum Network for Modern Art in America, [43:00] in which Heather Cotter, Museum of Fine Arts Gallery Lecturer, gives an overview of the roots of American modern art using examples from the Museum's collection. This talk in the galleries of the Museum of Fine Arts investigates the foundations of modern art in America, focusing on works by Georgia O'Keefe, Arthur Dove, Charles Sheeler, and Stuart Davis. [September 28, 2003]
an Arts4All Ltd. video. Go to ArtsPass > Video on Demand > Arts Pass Library and select "O'Keeffe, Georgia (1887-1986) (Visual Arts) [15:44] This vivid visual presentation of one of America's most important and successful artists, Georgia O'Keeffe, offers insight into her exhibitions in New York, her life in New Mexico, and her relationship with the internationally known photographer and art impresario, Alfred Stieglitz. Her works include oils, charcoals, pencil sketches, and watercolors as well as objects in clay produced in her later years. Written by Paul Foster"
Recorded at the Sheldon Museum of Art, the video files listed below enhance the understanding and enjoyment of visitors. Please click here to access the files which include Georgia O'Keeffe's New York, Night. Sheldon Director Jan Driesbach and Ashley Conaster, a graduate student in Art History, discuss Georgia O'Keeffe's painting, New York, Night, now on view in the Sheldon's permanent collection galleries. The videocast uses still and video images to show aspects and details of the painting. [10:30]
From YouTube "Georgia O'Keeffe's Flowers" [03:17]
From YouTube "Flowers by Georgia O'Keefe - Mozart Symphony in F (Presto)" [02:35]

DVD or VHS videos:

Georgia O'Keeffe was produced by Perry Miller Adato in 1977 by WNET for The Originals: Women in Art series and distributed by the Educational Broadcasting Corporation. The video is 59 minutes long and is self-narrated by O'Keeffe. The artist talks candidly about her work and life, showing how nature and the mountains and desert of New Mexico figure prominently in her work. The video includes comments by sculptor Juan Hamilton, who was her assistant, and critics Barbara Rose and Daniel Catton Rich.

Georgia O'Keeffe: A Life in Art Adato, Perry Miller, producer and director. A 2002 video from the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe. The Museum's orientation film created by the acclaimed, award-winning filmaker Perry Miller Adato. The film presents O'Keeffe's life and the origins and development of her art. VHS and DVD.

Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz 60 minute / 1998 / CTC - "Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O'Keeffe, companions in life and art in spite of a 23-year age difference, symbolize the juxtapositions characteristics of the American modernist period. In this program, Professor Wanda Corn from Stanford University uses O'Keeffe's paintings and Stieglitz's photographs to show the impact each had on the other's work and on the evolution of American art. Corn emphasizes the artistic collaboration between the couple and points out O'Keeffe's modernist style of abstraction in her use of strong form and color and unusual vantage point on a traditional subject. As O'Keeffe is influenced by her sojourns to New Mexico, so does her art consciously change in subject matter as a reflection of her strong artistic spirit and determination to reconnect with traditional America." Quotes are from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Georgia O'Keeffe: Women in Art 1977, 60 minutes. A sensitive presentation that goes beyond the Georgia O'Keeffe legend to reveal a woman who was full of warmth, humor, and practical wisdom. O'Keeffe appeared for the first time on camera to talk candidly about her work and life. Her paintings figure prominently, showing her wide range of style and how nature continued to inspire her. (text courtesy Georgia Museum of Art)

Great Women Artists: Georgia O'Keeffe is a 46-minute video by Kultur Video which says: Georgia O'Keeffe was an American abstract painter, famous for the purity and lucidity of her still-life compositions. O'Keeffe moved to New Mexico in 1949, and is best known for her large paintings of desert flowers and scenery, in which single blossoms or objects such as a cow's skull are presented in close-up views."

O'Keeffe and Texas Takes a look at American Modernist Georgia O'Keeffe during her years in Texas. Explores how her experiences as a teacher and how the natural forms of the area around Amarillo and Canyon, Texas, influenced her emotional states and her art. 15-minute video. Description source: Amon Carter Museum Teacher Resource Center

Southwest of Georgia O'Keeffe, The ia a 11 minute 1995 video from Lucerne Media that covers the paintings of flowers, bones, and airborne images made during the lifetime of the noted American abstractionist Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986), especially the Southwestern themes and landscapes for which she became most famous. She saw an abstract universe everwhere in the flowers, the city, the desert, and exploring the aerial view of the world

Alfred Stieglitz, Photographer is a 30 minute 1998 video by Paul Falkenberg, Museum at Large, Ltd. from the Museum of Modern Art Collectors series produced by Kultur Video -- This film profile is narrated by friends and artists who knew Stieglitz well: Ansel Adams, Aaron Copland, Isamu Noguchi, and others. Red Ribbon, American Film Festival.

"Celebrates the achievements of a seminal figure in the history of photography and of modern art in America, Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946). Drawn from Stieglitz' own observations and reminiscences of various people who knew him well, including Ansel Adams, Mary Steichen Calderone, Harold Clurman, Aaron Copland, Arnold Newman, and Isamu Noguchi." Description source: Amon Carter Museum Teacher Resource Center

Alfred Stieglitz: The Eloquent Eye is a 90 minute 2000 American Masters series WNET video directed by Perry Miller Adato. From the Back Cover: "Stieglitz, who is revered as one of the most innovative photographers of the 20th century, played a primary role in fostering new talent. Through his three galleries in New York City, he mentored emerging artists such as Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, Ansel Adams, Eliot Porter and Georgia O'Keeffe; and introduced avant-garde Europeans such as Henri Matisse, Paul Cezanne, Auguste Rodin and Pablo Picasso.... This revealing look at "The Father of Modern Photography" features a rare interview with Georgia O'Keeffe, Stieglitz's wife and muse, as well as archival footage of other artistic giants he inspired, including Edward Steichen and John Marin. Additionally, the film presents countless images from the Stieglitz archives, ranging from early European peasant life to later views of New York's urban landscape." VHS/DVD

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