Having visited the mammoth retrospective at Tate Modern of Georgia O’Keeffe, I could wax lyrical about her flower paintings and argue whether or not she was exploring the female form a la Freud:
Or, I could describe the majestic beauty of the New Mexican landscapes she knew and understood:
But I won’t, as there was one room that I thought was incredible- New York Cityscapes. Filled with her paintings alongside the photographs of her husband and their contemporaries.
The most beautiful work in this room was New York with Moon from 1925:
This was breathtaking. Your eye is immediately drawn to the sky and moon and at first it appears abstract until you realise that you are looking up at the tower skyscrapers surrounding you. The electric light glowing against the building and the foreboding stoplight draws your eye down the canvas. The warm palette adds to a welcoming feel of this exciting city.
Along with works such as Ritz Tower, Night (1928) O’Keeffe was well in her way to making the painting of the city seem so easy.
But O’Keeffe didn’t just spend her time looking up. She also looked into the city and the painting ‘East River from the 30th floor of The Shelton’ is a stunning industrial landscape. All you can say is wow!
The above study was my absolute favourite, however. The monochromatic distillation of buildings, factories and river just work for me in so many ways. I’d only you could ‘borrow’ these works!
Loved this exhibition, but be warned you need plenty of stamina to get round 13 rooms!
There is an article in today’s Observer by Jonathan Jones which reminded me of the trip I made at Easter to look at the permanent collections.
Jones asks “Why are the permanent collection galleries still so aggressively anti-chronological?” and I think I know why. He bemoans the fact that you learn nothing, but what was clear was the way you don’t feel restricted by time as you wander through the four rooms -they are themed and, as the website says, At the heart of each wing is a large central display, or ‘hub’, which focuses on one of the pivotal moments of twentieth-century art history. Around the focal points, a range of displays move backwards and forwards in time, showing the predecessors and sometimes the opponents of each movement, as well as how they shaped and informed subsequent developments and contemporary art. The introductory room in each wing brings together work by artists from different generations, to reflect this ongoing dialogue between past and present.”
I loved the fact that I could be gazing at the sinister exhuberance emitted from Picasso’s Three Dancers (who doesn’t want to start whirling round to an imaginary tune when looking at this?) and then turn round to the cold elegance of Dorothea Tanning’s A Mi-Voix:
The themes of the four rooms allow you to choose something that connects with your mood at the time. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience as it gave me new artists to go off and explore later and it made a change from going for a specific exhibition. I purchased one of the multimedia guides which I find useful, although I would have liked more commentaries, as there were some works that I really wanted to know more about there and then!
As to Jones’s comment about taking his child along, I was amazed by how many children there were exploring the works. One mother was even holding her baby up to a Jean Miro to admire the colours.
It is one of my favourite places to visit, especially as I get to use the members’ room! Their open sandwiches are pretty yummy too! i