A shrine to the painter goddess Georgia O’Keeffe, disguised as an exhibition of the artist’s wardrobe, works, and unapologetic lifestyle, is coming to the Brooklyn Museum. Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern examines O’Keeffe not only as an artist, but also as a woman and as a public figure with an enduring influence. This is achieved brilliantly through the show’s unprecedented mix of mediums. Through the loving, honest portraits of the artist by Alfred Stieglitz, Bruce Weber, Ansel Adams, Annie Leibovitz and more, museumgoers can see how O’Keeffe looked; or how she presented herself, through her minimalistic, monastic, and self-made clothing; or how she expressed herself through her famous work; all at the same, glorious time.
In this way, the show exposes the carefully crafted persona behind the flowers, ram skulls, and bridges. It also captures the many talents of the artist through a chronological approach to her changeful life.
A sartorial introduction shows a young O’Keeffe defying the frills and bows of the time for a style entirely her own. Then there are the New York years, between 1920 and 1940, when the artist was continuing to build her own wardrobe and living with her lover Alfred Stieglitz, whose serial portrait project made O’Keeffe one of the most photographed American artists in history. What follows are the dry colors and barren landscapes of her time in New Mexico, a fleeting exploration into Asian aesthetics, and portraits of the aging artist shot on pilgrimages down to the Southwest by icons in their own rights, such as Adams and Weber.
The show is presented as part of the museum’s program, A Year of Yes: Reimagining Feminism at the Brooklyn Museum, which applauds a decade of feminist thinking at the museum. So far, the program has featured the feminist works of Beverly Buchanan and Marilyn Minter, and will continue with shows including, "Black Radical Women" and "A Feminist Timeline."
Below, a glimpse into the world of Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern:
Georgia O’Keeffe (American, 1887–1986). Ram’s Head, White Hollyhock—Hills (Ram’s Head and White Hollyhock, New Mexico), 1935. Oil on canvas, 30 x 36 in. (76.2 x 91.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Bequest of Edith and Milton Lowenthal, 1992.11.28. (Photo: Brooklyn Museum)