Museum Thursdays are back! The winter snow has melted away leaving beautiful 70 degree weather in its wake. Which means, being out and about is much more tempting that it was during the winter months. Yesterday I spent my first thursday in a while at The Phillips Collection. They are currently hosting The Georgia O’Keefe: Abstraction exhibit. This show chronicles her career as an artist and her contributions to the world of Abstraction. While she is most known for her flowers this show moves beyond that.
The show chronicles her works from the beginning of her artistic career through to the end. The first space that you walk into if lined with charcoal drawings that O’Keefe created which explore lines and curves. As you view each piece you begin to see the fluid forms emerge that are so very familiar within her work.
Intermixed with the charcoal drawings are a few that incoporate a bit of color, but you don’t see much of that until you make your way into the next area of the exhibition. Here we still encounter the abstract form building that we see throughout the charcoal drawings but exploring the use of color. One wall plaque explains that while at Columbia Teachers College she was told to explore one color until you have mastered it as you did with “grey.” One piece, centered on the wall, show this concept beautifully. Exploring the use of blue O’Keefe creates a moving wave like image with a multitude of hues, from darks to lights.
These images seem to be more about the color than the form itself. In the third room of the exhibtion we begin to see the Georgia O’Keefe that we are familiar with. These pieces incorporate many colors into one painting as well as create forms that are reminiscent of actual objects. You can see the growth and development of her craft. The Pastels and curvilinear shapes that soften her paintings are present within this room. The color pallet remains relatively light here. As we move into the fourth room of the exibition we are met with her darker works. By darker I mean the color pallete is darker. The blues and greens that were light and airy in the previous room have been replaced with deep colors, along with intense reds yellows, and oranges in one particular painting. So far the evolution of her artistry has been evident as you make your way through the exhibition. I think that when developing a show for an artist who has had just a long and illustrious career it can be difficult to decide how and what to exhibit. As of yet we have not seen a single Flower piece. I think this is smart. This allows the patron who may only be familiar with her flowers to experience a Georgia that they may not have ever known. In this room we also see a dominance of the color blue, perhaps this is an indication of her favorite color with which to paint with.
As you make my way through the connecting hallway I am met with photographs of the artist herself, created by her future husband Alfred Stieglitz. I think this is a fabulous way to segue into the remaining rooms of the exhibition. The photographs allow us to see the artist herself and maybe understand a little more about who she was as a person.
As I make my way through the hallway I am deposited into the second to last space. Here are where the flowers are kept. Inter-dispersed throughout are a few abstract paintings of various other objects are simply abstract colors. As you walk through I am met with Red Canna an image I am familiar with.
I continue through and are able to view paintings from her time in New Mexico. This space features the Jack-In-the-Pulpit series. The dark blue and green paintings, that for me are the most recognizable of her works. The final room of the exhibition show larger paintings. Only a few line the walls because of their size. This seems like a perfect way to end the exhibition. Leaving the viewer with images that they probably have never seen and perhaps a different view of Georgia O’Keefe than they walked into the Collection with.