"I paint not what I could see, but a music only I can hear." These are the words of American painter Georgia O'Keefe, whose bold works of modernism and simplicity earned her timeless recognition long after her death.
The San Diego Museum of Art (SDMA) is proud to be the final and only West Coast destination for nationally touring exhibit Georgia O'Keefe and the Women of the Stieglitz Circle, featuring over 30 paintings and drawings by stunning American artist.
Alongside O'Keefe will be five other women artists whose work was exhibited and promoted in the early 20th century by famous New York gallerist and photographer Alfred Stieglitz. This exhibit also features photographs of O'Keefe by Stieglitz himself, providing a more intimate portrayal of O'Keefe as both an artist and woman.
Being the only museum in Southern California to house this special exhibit is a privilege and a unique experience for San Diego as a city of culture. "It is a visually stunning exhibition and I don't know when we will ever have this many works by the artist back at SDMA," says a gregarious Derrick R. Cartwright, SDMA's Executive Director.
Most famously known for her vibrant recreation of flowers, Georgia O'Keefe seems the perfect candidate for a blossoming spring and summer exhibit. "We wanted the summer audience to see work that would brighten their days,"says Cartwright. "There is no question that O'Keeffe has the capacity to do this. This is the kind of exhibit that people will want to visit more than once."
Historically, Stieglitz invited many female artists to his famed studio to exhibit work but none fascinated him as much as Georgia O'Keefe. Stieglitz discovered her in 1916 then married her in 1924. According to Cartwright, upon seeing some drawings from O'Keefe's first New York Exhibitions he exclaimed, "Finally, a woman on paper!" and was immediately smitten.
Throughout both their careers, Stieglitz promoted O'Keefe as an exemplar of Modernist American art and drew her immense attention. "I'm tired of my men." She was quoted saying, apparently exhausted by the popular propensity to peg her as a purely "feminist" artist. She deeply despised when her work was seen as sexualized objects.
When Stieglitz died in 1946, O'Keefe moved to the Southwest where she worked for 40 years. "It is a proof of her enduring relevance as an artist that we still consider that area of the US to be 'O'Keefe country,'" says Cartwright.
While touring the exhibit, what amazes most is O'Keefe's imaginative and gorgeous use of color, shape, and movement. Upon entering the museum's double doors, instantly the eyes are drawn to a canvas of an opalescent swirl of pale pink against a line of green. O'Keefe's "Pink Tulip" embodies her sweeping and color-drenched style, with exploding proportions of shapes and flowers. The colors of her work swirl and dance as each painting throbs with movement, filling the exhibit space with undulating light and color.
Also be sure to keep an eye out for "Canna Lily," a watercolor painting that pulsates red with hints of burgeoning violet in the shape of a lily. "Abstraction Seaweed and Water" is another notable composition exploding with a mix of green, yellow, pastel pink, and bright red. It folds outward with fingerlike projections reaching for the edge of the canvas, with a stream of water flowing through the center, splitting a sea of color. This entire exhibit blooms with each work under review, unfolding O'Keefe's story of womanhood, fervor, and recreation.
As San Diego stretches into summer, make time to head to beautiful Balboa Park and take in this matchless exhibit. "San Diego is a major cultural center," says Cartwright. "Doing projects like this one will promote SDMA as a leader on regional, national and international levels." Only at SDMA can you see this exhilarating exhibit, making our city the destination this summer for fine arts and culture in Southern California.
SDMA is celebrating women with this incomparable exhibit all summer long with interactive activities including a Family Festival oriented around women artists, classes for children and adults, Culture & Cocktails, and Screen on the Green - SDMA's free outdoor film series.
The celebration continues well into the winter with more feminine touches such as Eleanor Antin: Historical Takes, a solo exhibit from feminist artist Eleanor Antin, known for her works of photography and performance running July 19 through November 2.
Also enjoy Kimono as Art: The Landscapes of Itchiku Kubota, featuring the work of the internationally recognized Japanese textile artists and kimono designer, running November 1 through January 4th, 2009.
Insider Tip: Check out the Georgia O'Keefe exhibit at the San Diego Museum of Art in Cohn Restaurant Group style with the exclusive Thursday night dinner and show package at The Prado. This three-course dinner special is $79.95 per couple - and includes a bottle of Georges DuBoeuf wine and two tickets to the Georgia O'Keefe exhibit. For the menu and more info, read the details here.