Georgia O'Keeffe exhibit at MoMA takes deep dive into her artistic process

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Thursday, May 4, 2023
Georgia O'Keeffe exhibit at MoMA details artistic process
A new exhibit MOMA is the first to do a deep dive into her process and show the steps Georiga O'Keeffe took to create her unique work.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Georgia O'Keeffe was one of the most important artists of the 20th century, but because she lived her long life strictly on her own terms, she also became a feminist icon.

A new exhibit at The Museum of Modern Art is the first to do a deep dive into her process: to show the steps O'Keeffe took to create her unique work.

More than 120 works are displayed including charcoal sketches and watercolors that demonstrate how she developed her famous paintings.

Taken together, the exhibition forms a portrait of the artist as a young woman. Before the flowers for which O'Keeffe is so famous, came dozens of works on paper.

A step into the galleries makes clear why the exhibit is called "To See Takes Time."

The curator of the show, Samantha Friedman, explained that O'Keeffe, "made these works as sort of rhythmic sequences that kind of ebb and flow and change and follow a course of a duration or follow a sort of logic."

The idea is to show her process so that we can all learn much more about an artist many think they already know.

"This is O'Keefe's Evening Star series that she made in 1917," Friedman said as she walked by a beautiful series of watercolors the artist made when she was teaching in Canyon, Texas. "The colors of the sky help her palette to really expand and explode."

Friedman calls this time around World War I O'Keeffe's breakthrough years.

"She's teaching during the day, and she's making her own work at night, laying sheets of paper on the floor, working them with charcoal and trying to get down what she calls 'the shapes in her head,'" Friedman said.

Visitors get to see the artist's materials courtesy of The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, near where she lived. In fact, she was so meticulous and so specific about what she used to create that O'Keeffe made some of her pastels from scratch.

And yet, it was her choice of a unique way of life, her iconoclastic approach, and her refusal to compromise that makes her influence felt beyond the world of art.

"To See Takes Time" helps secure Georgia O'Keeffe's reputation as a feminist icon.

"To be working in this totally new abstract language in these early years of the 20th century as a woman was incredibly bold," Friedman said. "And she was always from those earliest years to the end of her life an artist who did things in her own way."

Make sure to see the show before it closes in August. Click here for more details.

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