Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Georgia O'Keeffe, Blue #1

Georgia O'Keeffe, Blue #1, 1916

O'Keeffe (1887-1986) is of course best known for her many flower paintings, but she also explored many other themes, such as landscapes of the New Mexico desert where she spent most of her life.  This painting is quite different, and I am not entirely sure what to make of it, but I am quite taken with it.  Much more abstract than most of O'Keeffe's work, the shapes perhaps suggest human profiles, or perhaps hills or plumes of smoke.  Upon close inspection, there do seem to be shapes that resemble facial features, but could just be rock surfaces.  Even if there are eyes and mouths present in those swaths of grey, they are extremely too abstracted to form a figurative subject.  Instead what I love about this painting is the overall impression––of something large and unnameable, formless and dreamlike.  There is a certain surety in O'Keeffe's hand that allows her to express her vision so well.

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