McNay Art Museum presents "Georgia O’Keeffe and American Modernism"
The beginning of the 20th century was a period of great change for America, demonstrated in the artistic movement known as American Modernism. American artists were inspired by the diversity of immigrant cultures, and in many cases, their own experiences as first-generation American citizens. Social norms and boundaries were challenged, and conventions on class, gender, religion, and race were increasingly blurred and redefined. American Modernists found unity in the disarray, and the diversity of the work they produced reflected the chaotic, rapidly evolving period in history.
Georgia O’Keeffe is known as the “mother of American Modernism,” figuring prominently in the movement from the late 1910s onward. The synthesis of abstraction and representation in her work is a prime example of the movement, as well as the application of these disparate styles to the ordinary or conventional subject matter like still life, landscapes, and architecture.
Like contemporaries Arthur Dove, Charles Sheeler, and Helen Torr, O’Keeffe blurred the natural and man-made, rendering landscapes, flowers, animal skulls, and rocks with the same precision as her images of houses, barns, and skyscrapers - at times reducing subject matter to fundamental shapes and lines, or focusing on individual elements with a wash of vibrant color.
"Georgia O’Keeffe and American Modernism" is organized with a focus on a wider, more inclusive view of the development of American Modernism, combining key loans from the Whitney Museum of American Art and additional sister institutions with works from the McNay’s renowned collection. O’Keeffe is the thread that runs through the exhibition, her work evoking the spirit of American Modernism in its diverse subject matter and unique style.