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Exhibitions > Past Exhibitions

Georgia O’Keeffe: Nature and Abstraction

Nature and Abstraction is a survey of the extraordinary career of the legendary American artist Georgia O’Keeffe.  The exhibition comprises some 30 works ranging from 1918 to 1977 and deals with the central concern of her work – the transformation of nature into abstraction. It includes examples of all her main areas of interest, landscape paintings, flower studies and abstract works. Over the course of seven decades, O’Keeffe became a major figure in American art, renowned not only for the stylized beauty of her work, but also for steadfastly remaining true to her own unique vision, amid the many shifting trends of her time. O’Keeffe’s work focuses on representing an object’s essence through form, colour and allusion. Her images range from clear representation to purely abstract shapes with colours that are more conceptual than naturalistic, adding to a heightened sensation of clarity. O’Keeffe manages to imbue her work with an eroticism and mysticism while maintaining a careful restraint. 

Georgia O’Keeffe, Yellow Leaves, 1928, oil on canvas, 40 x 30 inches, Courtesy Brooklyn Museum. 87. 136.1. Bequest of Georgia O’Keeffe, © ARS, NY and DACS, London 2007

Georgia O’Keeffe, Dark Tree Trunks, 1946, oil on canvas, 40 x 30 inches, Courtesy Brooklyn Museum. 87. 136.1.Bequest of Georgia O’Keeffe, © ARS, NY and DACS, London 2007

Georgia O’Keeffe, Series 1, No 8, 1919, Courtesy Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, © ARS, NY and DACS, London 2007


Georgia O’Keeffe was born in 1887 in Wisconsin, USA.  She was of Irish descent, her paternal grandparents, Pierce and Catherine O’Keeffe, left Co Cork for America in 1848.  She studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and at the Art Students League, New York.  The international photographer Alfred Stieglitz, who later became her husband, promoted O’Keeffe’s work from 1923 until his death in 1946, organising annual exhibitions of her work throughout the United States.  As early as the mid 1920s, when O’Keeffe first began painting her large-scale depictions of flowers, which are among her best-known works, she was already recognized as one of America’s most important and successful artists.  Three years after Stieglitz’s death O’Keeffe moved from New York to her beloved New Mexico, whose landscape had inspired her work from 1929.  O’Keeffe continued to work in oil until the mid 1970s, when failing eyesight forced her to abandon painting.  She continued to work in pencil and watercolour and also produced objects in clay.  She died in 1986 at the age of 98.  The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico, was opened in 1997 and is the first museum in the United States dedicated to an individual woman artist. 

The exhibition is presented in association with THE IRISH TIMES

Georgia O’Keeffe is co-organised by the Irish Museum of Modern Art and the Vancouver Art Gallery and curated by Richard D Marshall, independent curator, consultant, art historian and curator of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, from 1975 to 1993.  The exhibition will travel to the Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada, from 6 October 2007 to 13 January 2008.

The catalogue, Georgia O’Keeffe Nature and Abstraction, is published by the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the Vancouver Art Gallery and Skira Editore, Milan, and includes texts by Richard Marshall, Yvonne Scott, lecturer in the History of Art, Trinity College, Dublin, and Achille Bonito Oliva, art critic, writer, curator and teacher of the History of Contemporary Art at La Sepienza University, Rome. To buy the catalogue click arrow link" hspace="0" src="/en/siteimages/arrow2.gif" align="baseline" border="0" /> here  

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arrow link" hspace="0" src="/en/siteimages/arrow2.gif" align="baseline" border="0" />   Press Release  

To buy the catalogue for this exhibition click arrow link" hspace="0" src="/en/siteimages/arrow2.gif" align="baseline" border="0" /> here  

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