This new, first-of-its-kind exhibition not only features some of the most exquisite paintings by O’Keeffe, it also takes in a host of brilliant artists she influenced and those who influenced her. Many of these works are rarely seen, on loan from private collections.
This outstanding exhibition perfectly complements the Fine Arts Center’s mission dating back to our founding in 1936, which began with a unique collecting and exhibition focus on both sacred Southwestern and Modernist American art. The unique occasion to showcase Georgia O’Keeffe pays perfect homage to the FAC’s roots, and represents a bold statement for the region’s cultural contributions.
We hope this will be a time for us all to take a moment to stop and smell the irises.
“Nothing is less real than realism. Details are confusing. It is only by selection, by elimination, by emphasis, that we get at the real meaning of things.” —Georgia O’Keeffe
The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center will be one of only four cities in the U.S., and the only venue in this region, to host this international traveling exhibition.
New Mexico, America’s fabled “Land of Enchantment,” has inspired artists for generations, especially Georgia O’Keeffe. She had a creative epiphany in 1929 during her first summer in New Mexico. In addition to the paintings of the high desert landscape for which she is well known, that initial sojourn inspired colorful still lifes, souvenirs of a place that would inspire her for the balance of a long and productive career. Yet O’Keeffe’s Southwestern still life compositions were not the first, nor the only, that were inspired by the region.
Painters in Taos, Santa Fe and other centers in the state, as well as visitors from elsewhere, produced images detailing objects and artifacts from New Mexico’s ancient land and culture, true icons of enchantment: Hopi kachinas and Navajo weavings. Ollas and other ceramics from skilled Pueblo potters. Santos, crucifixes and ritual objects from skilled bulteros. Books, furnishings and domestic implements from Anglo households. Sticks and stones and sun-bleached bones, the detritus of the desert. And flowers, beautiful desert blossoms indigenous to the Southwest, as well as sumptuous bouquets gathered from Anglo settlers’ gardens. Individually or in combination, these evocative still-life subjects, many of which recur in O’Keeffe’s paintings, evoke a distinctive and very special art precinct.
In addition to O’Keeffe, artists in the exhibition range from the pioneering generation to mid-century arrivals.They include Modernists long associated with New Mexico (Joseph Henry Sharp, Raymond Jonson, Victor Higgins), as well as those who found inspiration during visits there (Marsden Hartley). Artists associated with the Works Progress Administration’s (WPA) art programs of the 1930s will be included, as will those independent of the largely Anglo art colonies.
The exhibition curator is Charles C. Eldredge, former Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and currently Hall Distinguished Professor of American Art at the University of Kansas.