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Georgia O’Keeffe, Mule’s Skull with Pink Poinsettia

Georgia O’Keeffe, Mule’s Skull with Pink Poinsettia (1936), oil on canvas [Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma WA, Mar 1-Jun 7] © 2015 Georgia O’Keeffe Museum / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy International Arts

Eloquent Objects: Georgia O’Keeffe and Still Life Art
in New Mexico

Tacoma Art Museum
Tacoma WA – Mar 1-Jun 7, 2015

Frank Sauerwein, Still Life

Frank Sauerwein, Still Life (1901), oil on canvas [Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma WA, Mar 1-Jun 7] © Frank Sauerwein. Courtesy International Arts


B.J.O. Nordfeldt, Roses and Canvas
B.J.O. Nordfeldt, Roses and Canvas (circa 1928), oil on canvas [Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma WA, Mar 1-Jun 7] © Copyright 2014. Courtesy International Arts


Dorothy Morang, Garden of Eden
Dorothy Morang, Garden of Eden (1937), oil on plywood [Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma WA, Mar 1-Jun 7] © Dorothy Morang. Courtesy International Arts


This major exhibit focuses on the role of still-life art in New Mexico during the first half of the 20th century, and brings together the work of Georgia O’Keeffe and her contemporaries. O’Keeffe is a preeminent American artist best known for her softly hued paintings of enlarged floral subjects. The American Southwest was a primary inspiration in her work. In 1929, she spent the first of many summers painting in New Mexico, before relocating there from New York in 1949. Her iconic paintings of sun-bleached bones and stark desert landscapes are some of the most captivating of her artistic oeuvre. Twenty-two of her pieces are included here, making up about a third of the entire show.

Among the still-life works by other important modernists are those by Marsden Hartley and Stuart Davis. As well, the work of artists from major art centres in New Mexico are featured – Gustave Baumann, Catherine Critcher and Eliseo Rodriguez among them.

Here is a pioneering generation of artistic visions, told through the unusual objects, forms and sense of light and colour felt in the unique American Southwest desert. Together, these works reveal something intimate about place and time. Much of the binding artistic subject matter in the exhibit is drawn from daily details, evoking still-life compositions as very personal impressions of the region from the 1920s to the 1950s, when many of these artists were refining their personal modern style. O’Keeffe and other artists who travelled west helped establish a dynamic community of artists who found aesthetic delight in New Mexico’s vast beauty.

Allyn Cantor


 Sun, Feb 8, 2015