REVIEW ARTICLE : GEORGIA O’KEEFFE. EXHIBITION AT TATE MODERN BOILER HOUSE BANKSIDE LONDON: 6TH JULY 2016-30TH OCTOBER 2016: REVIEWER LAURENCE HUMPHRIES.

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It is a Pleasure these days to review exhibitions at the Tate Modern with its new revolutionary look with both the Boiler House on side and the Switch House on the other side. Globally we have two Wonderful modern 21st Art museums. Tate Modern in London and the MOMA in New York. My brother and his family went for 6 days to New York and sent me Photographs of their journey. One Day I would like to share the photographs with my American Blogger friends.

Now back to O’Keeffe. Unfortunately the Exhibition has closed but I hope my article can give a flavour of what the Exhibition was like.

Georgia O’Keefe was an artist born in the 1920’s where she met Alfred Stieglitz the great Photographer and Modernist who was responsible for promoting  artists like John Marin, Marsden Hartley and Stuart Davis. Stieglitz divorced his first wife and married O’Keeffe. He died in 1947.

” Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) is widely recognised as a foundational figure within the History of Modernism in the united states and during her lifetime became an American Icon (according to Bourgeois Feminists and post Modernists)”. [1].

The exhibition itself is split into 11 Rooms and you must allow at least an hour to walk through and appreciate different aspects of her art.

” O’Keeffe’s earliest mature works were abstractions in Charcoal made while she was working as an art teacher in Virginia and Texas”. [2].

” This early period also reveals O’Keeffe to be a gifted Colourist skilled in watercolour. Strikingly vivid paintings of the mountains , landscapes of Virginia and plains of Texas demonstrate her skilful handling of colour”.[3].

The following statement by the Curator obviously influenced by subjective Idealism and Post modernism has been proved to be impossible. Materialism the art of perception transferred through reflection and action is the way people cognise the world.

“An interest in synaesthesia , the stimulation of one senses by another”[4].

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The exhibition notes show how O’Keeffe turned to abstraction very early on in her career.

” O’Keeffe turned with greater assurance to abstraction and to oil Paint as a medium focussing on paintings from 1918-1930″. [5].

Again the Curators give O’Keeffe this status as someone who philosophically creates sensory objects out of her mind. This is of course rubbish and incorrect as I have argued previously. The mind is a material object and thoughts ,sight and perception are transferred through unseen electric impulses. They are materialistic and not sensory.

” The importance of abstraction in O’Keeffe’s work and how she took inspiration from sensory stimulation. here her paintings investigate the relationship to music , colour and composition”.[6].

This of course is pure idealism giving O’Keeffe some God like status. As I have demonstrated the mind does not work in this way.

Bourgeois Feminists during the 1960’s and 1970’s gave O’Keeffe importance as a figure head in their movement. There is no doubt that Women are oppressed but their liberation will be achieved through Revolutionary Communist activity and not through Bourgeois feminism.

” The critical response emphasised O’Keeffe’s identity as a woman artist and attributed essential feminine qualities to her work.”.[7].

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The Exhibition Curators now come and discuss O’Keeffe’s precisionist work which I have discussed in a previous blog article. They completely fail to mention the far better precisionist artists Charles Sheeler and Charles Demuth who I argued in my article painted  great precisionist city landscapes  of New York. O’Keeffe was living in New York but when Stieglitz died in 1947 she moved to New Mexico.

After the onset of the depression O’Keeffe decided to move to New Mexico where you could find some of her most creative pieces of art which she completed in Taos and Alcade.

” With the onset of the Great Depression the city’s utopian spirit vanished and it no longer held her attention”. [8].

The exhibition in Rooms 5 and  6, deal with her paintings Of Lake George , flowers and still Life. It is only when we come to her sojourn to New Mexico where we find some of her best work.

” In 1929 O’Keeffe made her first prolonged visit to New Mexico in the South western United States”. [9].

The Skull paintings of O’Keeffe are really amazing in appearance.

” Writers and painters at this time were searching for a specifically American Iconography , or in O’Keeffe’s words The Great American thing”. [10].

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” In O’Keeffe’s paintings the bones particularly when juxtaposed with the desert  landscape of the Southwest summarise the essence of America”[10].

” During the later 1930’s and 1940’s O’Keeffe deepened her exploration of the distinctive landscape of the Southwest”. [11].

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The curators continue to mention further paths to abstraction which are in rooms 11, 12 and 13. This concludes my review of Georgia O’Keeffe who was a revolutionary Modernist in many ways but could never equal the Abstract Expressionists who were both Revolutionary and forged a new path to abstraction. O’Keeffe would never manage this. She was in many ways an enigma but her art was different and she spanned both the 20th and 21st Centuries.

FOOTNOTES

  1. TATE BOOKLET GEORGIA O’KEEFFE
  2. DITTO
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