The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Posted on
Jun 14, 2017
2
Posted in: Attractions, Museums

I broke my long-held rule about not taking photos of artwork while at The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. I don’t know if my views on the matter have changed or not. Perhaps they’ve shifted only slightly. I still get angry at people using flashes to light up ancient works, I still want to scream at the woman I saw at the Louvre pressing her cell phone against a canvas, I get annoyed when I’m are trying to appreciate the stillness of a painting to a soundtrack of endless clicks and beeps. But sometimes it’s okay, and there are no hard and fast rules for when I think that’s the case – like the oft-repeatedly refrain about pornography, I’ll know it when I see it.

For the record, non-flash photography is allowed in the O’Keeffe, but I waited until the galleries were empty to sneak a few sparse shots. Call me a hypocrite (I mean, I’ll punch you in the throat if you do, but go for it). My rules are malleable and my mind sometimes changes. Besides, photography was a recurring theme in the artist’s life. Her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, was a photographer and art dealer, as were many of her friends, including Ansel Adams and Eliot Porter. I have trouble imagining her yelling at me, but I’ve heard that her personality was abrasive, so it’s tough to say.

I remember when O’Keeffe died, or at least I think I do. I was five, and I marveled at her longevity – she lived to the ripe old age of 98. Her gigantic flowers meant that she was one of the first artists I could identify, and I felt a point of pride in the fact that she was a girl, like me, when so many of the masters were men (I was too young to understand the importance of representation, of seeing someone like yourself in a field where you didn’t think there was space for you). I didn’t know of all the scholars who felt that her creations hearkened to the vulva. In my younger years, I couldn’t see it. Now I laugh at what true innocence is.

I mean, come ON. This is an anatomical diagram.

 

O’Keeffe adamantly denied that her work intentionally referenced the female anatomy, and I wonder if she genuinely believed that or if she was just messing with everyone. Maybe it was subconscious on her part. Maybe it was a fantastic gag she was playing. “What? No. Heavens, no, those aren’t labia. What the hell is wrong with you?”

 

Her work extended far beyond her well-known blossoms. She is often regarded as the Mother of American Modernism (a title which I find rather amusing; O’Keeffe had no children, so American Modernism is an only child). She drew landscapes and cities, animal skulls and abstract forms.

This was from her “Pelvis Series” BUT NONE OF THIS IS ABOUT VAGINAS.

 

She lived in New Mexico for decades, and being there for the first time, I felt like I was seeing her paintings in context – the blue skies and the dusty hills. The entire state looks like an O’Keeffe painting. Or perhaps vice versa. I can’t really say.

 

One of her favorite subjects was Cerro Pedernal – a narrow mesa visible from her home at Ghost Ranch. You can see it in three of the paintings below:

 

She once said of it, “It’s my private mountain. It belongs to me. God told me if I painted it enough, I could have it.”

I find this mind-bogglingly arrogant quote to be endlessly charming. Upon O’Keeffe’s death, her ashes were scattered across the top of Pedernal. Perhaps the mountain never belonged to her, but she most certainly belongs to it.

I usually find museums dedicated to one artist to be a little stifling. But O’Keeffe was as dynamic as she was prolific. Her works are both immediately recognizable and yet dramatically different from one another. In nearly every one, I could see the influence of Santa Fe creeping in. Later, I watched the sun set, and it was like looking at a painting.

 

Leave a Comment

  • All About Sana

    Wonderful G!

  • shubham varshney

    A nice and wonderful art that depicts in this post, after seeing these photographs no one can manage to not fall in love with art.
    Golden Triangle Tour 3 Days

More from The Blog

On Instagram @theeverywhereist

  • Four flights in five days. So sleepy. Finally heading home after a wonderful few hours in Ashland seeing @demeritt's incredible one-man show.
  • Why yes, I did run off to Ashland for a hot minute with the most handsome man in the world. What did you do today?
  • Thank you, Minneapolis, for reminding me that we can be pretty, even in the rain.
  • Stumbled upon these paranoid stone benches in MSP and they are speaking to my soul.
  • And to think, all this time I've been telling myself I pecan't.
  • Packing. Home in shambles. Accidently broke my own arm off of this wedding gift a dear friend made us. The symbolism is not lost on me.
  • This absurdly handsome man bounded across the stage in his "Nevertheless, She Persisted" t-shirt and talked about how he doesn't always adhere to gender norms, and that's okay. #soproud #inbound17 #latergram
  • Oh, okay, fine, I'll keep him. (Off to the Inbound conference, where I expect to trounce this fool with my speaking score.) #thisagain #randaldineselfie #selfiesonaplane
  • I sent @randderuiter to the housewares store by himself and this happened. I am the luckiest woman in the world. #christopherwalken #davidbowie #bowiepillow #walkenpillow
  • Super honored to be a part of @booksonthesubway - If you are in NYC, keep an eye out for All Over The Place! If you see a copy, feel free to take it home and read it (just be sure to return it when you're done!) #bookstagram #bookworms #booklove #booklover #booksonthesubway

All Over The Place

Buy my book and I promise I'll never ask you for anything again.

BE AWESOME. BUY IT.