Sunday, April 16, 2017

If in Brooklyn, Visit Georgia

Georgia O'Keeffe: Living Modern
to July 23, 2017
The Brooklyn Museum

Georgia O'Keeffe

It is worth going over to The Brooklyn Museum, if you want to see their different perspective on "Georgia O'Keeffe: Living Modern".  What is surprising about this exhibition is the inclusion of many photographs and written entries by and about Georgia O'Keefe, as well as fashions she designed for herself that are Spartan in a very contemporary way    ( no surprise that Calvin Klein is a main sponsor of this show ).

Georgia finds her voice with shells and shingles

Georgia O'Keeffe ( 1887-1986 ) was born in the mid-west, and educated at The Art Institute of Chicago; she was a student of Arthur Wesley Dow and had an open mind when it came to painting her subjects.  Seeking a career, Georgia moved to New York City where she came under the guidance of Alfred Steiglitz - a renowned photographer and gallery director.  They had a long lasting relationship and Georgia's artwork was promoted at Steiglitz's Gallery 291 ( Fifth Avenue near 32nd street ).

Georgia O'Keeffe's Jack-in-the-Pulpit

Even if you have seen other shows featuring Georgia's paintings this one takes on a different dimension and helps situate her in time, exploring lesser known paintings as well as some of her master works from a very long career.  There is a wonderful catalog for "Living Modern" and  leafing through it you will find that The Brooklyn Museum actually has a very sizable collection of Georgia O'Keeffe's artwork and photos of her as well.  I was surprised to see a painting I did not know that came from The Smithsonian on loan, and it is about "Manhattan" - painted as a model for part of a competitive mural commission in 1932.

Gorgia O'Keeffe's " Manhattan ", 1932
oil on canvas was part of mural competition

The photographs taken of Georgia during her life really remind the viewer of her character, someone who looked like she was in total control of herself and her surroundings.  The photos in this show represent every phase of Georgia O'Keefe's life - from ones taken by Steiglitz through to the photos by Annie Leibovitz and Andy Warhol.

Georgia O'Keeffe out west in the mid 1930's

Everything in her paintings looks considered, restrained, and clear-eyed, some would say "reductive" and they move to the heart of modernism.  The paintings have become iconic, and now influence generations of artists in her wake.

On fifth floor of the Museum I stopped in to see paintings by Marilyn Minter, and found a giant floor projection centered in their arched space, and I saw what I thought were a bunch of melting M&M's, but I could not be for certain...

Top of the museum

Outside is a beautiful day and perfect for a walk in the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, so we look forward to seeing the flowering cherry trees.  Sakura Matsuri,  the festival of Japanese culture is scheduled for April 29th and 30th, so if you are in Brooklyn, don't miss this chance to visit the garden when it is free and open to the public.

Cherry Trees in bloom
at The Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Years ago, I worked with my brother, Paul Singer, on graphics for The Brooklyn Botanic Garden - but all that is left of our efforts are descriptive panels in the Bonsai collection.  We still admired the ancient specimens - some go back 260 years - and have been well cared for all along the way.

The star magnolias were in bloom and couldn't help but take a look in on the Japanese gardens and take some photos to remember a fine day.  Then it was time to pack and head back upstate....

Brooklyn Botanic Garden