Friday, April 30, 2010

See Rare Art by Renowned American Artist Georgia O'Keeffe at The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.

New exhibit highlights rarely seen abstractions by Georgia O'Keeffe: February 6 - May 9, 2010

Thought I'd share this good news article and video with you from VOA News.

Be sure to watch the video ... plenty of good images of O'Keefe's abstractions ... click on the <> symbol to copy the video onto your clipboard or to paste the HTML code to your site or to share. Enjoy!

Source: VOA News (30 April 2010, Julie Taboh | Washington, DC) - "Rare Art by Renowned American Artist Goes on Display"

Georgia O'Keeffe
is one of the most distinguished American artists of the 20th century. She is best known for her vibrant paintings of flowers, leaves, landscapes and other images in nature.

Now, a new exhibit at The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., features more than 100 paintings, drawings and watercolors by O'Keeffe and 12 photographic portraits of her taken by her late husband, famed photographer Alfred Stieglitz.

But the highlight of the collection - which includes items dating from 1915 to the late 1970s - includes a rare selection of O'Keeffe's less familiar abstract art.

Georgia O'Keeffe as abstract artist

Georgia O'Keeffe is best known for her sensuous paintings of flowers and desert landscapes of the American southwest. But many people may not know that she was also a gifted abstract artist.

The new exhibit features abstractions that O'Keeffe herself didn't exhibit in her own lifetime, says Elsa Smithgall, associate curator at The Phillips Collection.

According to Smithgall, O'Keeffe broke into abstraction with a set of charcoal drawings that she created in 1915.

"They are exquisite gestural drawings, very organic in form, and no recognizable reference to a known subject," she says.

Water colors and oils

By the 1920s, O'Keeffe had moved on from pure abstract drawings to water colors and oil paintings of subjects that seem more familiar.

But according to Smithgall, O'Keeffe continued to use abstraction as the foundation in all her artwork.

"You're going to find in her work this constant back and forth between very purely abstract form and perhaps a flower or a leaf or a landscape," she says.

Sexual overtones

It was also during this period when critics described O'Keeffe's oil paintings as being sexually suggestive.

While Smithgall acknowledges that some of O'Keeffe's forms do evoke sexual connotations, she emphasizes that the exhibition "is not about that."

She adds that O'Keeffe herself passionately resisted the notion that her art was sexually suggestive and, in fact, made a concerted effort "to shift her focus in her work towards more recognizable subject matter as a way to try to steer the critics towards another kind of reading of her work."

New Mexico - a new chapter

Beginning in 1929, O'Keeffe started spending time in New Mexico where she felt more at home than she had in New York where her career had taken root. Her experiences in the vast open spaces of the New Mexico desert inspired her to move there permanently in 1949.

According to Smithgall, it was a new chapter in her career:

"She's very much responding to that ocean of space in New Mexico where they have this amazing clarity of light and very wonderful, breathtaking kind of exhilarating sensation that she feels there that is extremely inspiring to her, and it brings up a whole new body of subject matter," she says.

It was during these transformative years when her paintings took on a different feel as well, says Smithgall.

O'Keeffe started depicting flowers "increasingly large in format and increasingly greater in magnification and so you start to see a major change in her scale, in her viewpoint taking these unusual birds and bees-eye perspectives," she says.

According to Smithgall, O'Keeffe created magnified images of her subject matter as a way of "inviting the viewer in." She wasn't copying an object so much as expressing how she felt about painting it, she says.

Coming full circle

By the late '50s and '60s, O'Keeffe's art turned once again to the pure abstractions of her earlier years.

"This is not a work that you probably would see on the wall and say, 'Oh, yes, an O'Keeffe,'" says Smithgall, "so there's that surprising aspect to them."

"What's so exquisite about them is that she has - with very spare compositions - created these exquisite forms that are extremely expressive and that do recall those earliest charcoal drawings in that respect," she says.

From those early charcoal drawings to the huge, bold canvases of her later years, few would argue that the work of Georgia O'Keeffe has had a far-reaching influence on American art and culture, and continues to impress and inspire art lovers throughout the world.

Source: VOA News (30 April 2010, Julie Taboh | Washington, DC) - "Rare Art by Renowned American Artist Goes on Display"

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Woman's Touch: The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA)

The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) in Washington D.C. offers the single most important collection of art by women artists. The NMWA is solely dedicated to celebrating women’s achievements in the visual, performing, and literary arts. NMWA was incorporated in 1981 by Wallace and Wilhelmina Cole Holladay. Since the museum's opening in 1987, NMWA has acquired a collection of more than 3,500 paintings, sculptures, works on paper, and decorative art.

The museum's collection of about 1,000 women artists represent every major artistic period from 16th-century Dutch and Flemish still lifes to 20th-century abstract expressionism to postmodern art.

Left image: Artist: Alice Bailly (1872-1938), "Self-Portrait," 1917, oil on canvas, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.

Right image: Artist: Lilla Cabot Perry (1848-1933), "Lady With a Bowl of Violets," c.1910, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.

The following GREAT MUSEUMS video reflects on a range of topics--how women artists have been overshadowed in art history to feminism and the French Revolution to the memorable feminine artistic expressions of the late 19th century.

The video gives a good sampling of what's inside the National Museum of Women in the Arts. You'll hear from the founder and chair of the Board of the NMWA, Wilhelmina Cole Holladay. Since her discovery that female artists have historically been omitted from art history books, Wilhelmina Cole Holladay has made it her mission to shine the light on and celebrate the accomplishments of women artists from the past to the present. The museum's ongoing programs integrate themes of history and diversity with art being the great common denominator.

Video titled: A Woman's Touch: The National Museum of Women in the Arts from GreatMuseums

Choose the FULL SCREEN VIEW setting (click on "4 arrows" icon) to get the best view of the paintings and sculpture on the video.

The women artists, brief histories, and titled artwork discussed in the video are the listed:

  • Clara Peeters (1594-1657), Flemish painter. "Still Life of Fish and Cat"
  • Lavinia Fontana (1552-1614), Italian painter. "Portrait of a Noblewoman" (c.1580)
  • Sofonisba Anguissola (also spelled Anguisciola) (c. 1535-1625), Italian painter of the Renaissance. "Portrait of a Lady and Her Daughter"
  • Elisabetta Sirani (1638-1665), Italian Baroque painter, whose father was Giovanni Andrea Sirani of the School of Bologna. "Virgin and Child" (1663)
  • Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717), naturalist, scientific illustrator and painter; born in Frankfurt, Germany into the family of notable Swiss engraver Matthäus Merian. Paintings include "Pineapple" and "Spiders, Ants and Hummingbird"
  • Marianne Loir (1715-1769). "Portrait of Madame Geoffrin"
  • Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun (1755-1842), French, recognized as most famous woman painter of 18th Century. Shown artwork include: "Madame Thérèse Vestris" (1803). "Studies from her Sketchbook" (c.1801). "Portrait of Princess Belozersky" (1798). "Portrait of a Young Boy" (1817).
  • Adélaide Labille-Guiard (1749-1803), French portrait painter. "Portrait of the Marquise de Lafayette"
  • Angelica Kauffman (1741-1807), Swiss-Austrian Neoclassical painter. "Cumaean Sibyl" (c. 1763). "Family of the Earl of Gower" (1772).
  • Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938), French painter, born Marie-Clémentine Valadon; first woman painter admitted to Société Nationale des Beaux Arts; mother of painter Maurice Utrillo. "The Abandoned Doll" (1921). "Bouquet of Flowers" (1920).
  • Camille Claudel (1864-1943), French sculptor and graphic artist. "Young Girl With a Sheaf" (c. 1890).
  • Mary Cassatt (1844-1926), American painter and printmaker who lived most of her adult life in France and exhibited with the Impressionists. "The Bath" (1891).
  • Lilla Cabot Perry (1848-1933), American painter who worked in the Impressionistic style. "Lady With a Bowl of Violets" (c. 1910).
  • Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986), major American artist. "Alligator Pears in a Basket" (1921).
  • Joan Mitchell (1925-1992), American abstract expressionist painter. "Salle Neige" (1980).
  • Grace Hartigan (1922-2008), American abstract expressionist painter. "December Second" (1959). "Lady of Milan" (1985).
  • Alice Neel (1900-1984), American artist. "T.B. Harlem" (1940).
  • Audrey Flack (b. 1931), American photo-realist painter, printmaker, sculptor. "Hannah: Who She Is" (1982).
  • Lorrie Goulet, American sculptor.
  • Alice Bailly (1872-1938), Swiss painter, known for her interpretation of Cubism and multimedia "wool" paintings. "Self-Portrait" (1917).
  • Frida Kahlo (1907-1954), Mexican painter; married to Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. "Self-Portrait, Dedicated to Leon Trotsky" (1937).

More information: current exhibits and programs at National Museum of Women in the Arts official site.

Q & A (January 23, 2009) with Wilhelmina Cole Holladay, the author of A Museum of Their Own, National Museum of Women in the Arts, a lively account of how she founded the museum, which opened in 1987 in Washington, D.C. on Smart Woman Online

To see all my video posts about other artists on Art Bytes