Portrait of the Artist: Georgia O’Keeffe

Georgia O’Keeffe is one of the most iconic artists of our time, but she was also one of the most photographed, a fact that was no doubt influenced by her distinctive, minimalist style. An exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern, examines the artist’s evolving taste in fashion and the power of photography in crafting her persona. The show brings together key paintings as well as jewellery, accessories, and never-before-seen pieces from O’Keeffe’s wardrobe as well as portraits of her by noted photographers such as Ansel Adams, Cecil Beaton, Bruce Weber and Annie Leibovitz.

Portrait of Georgia O’Keeffe (left) by Alfred Stieglitz circa 1920-22. Portrait by Bruce Weber, 1984.

Most notable perhaps, is the multi-year series of portraits taken by her husband, photographer Alfred Stieglitz, which largely contributed to the vast archive of O’Keeffe images and to her status as a style pioneer and modernist icon. Her distinctive style was marked by an early penchant for bowler hats, tailored menswear suits, oxfords and a monochromatic palette. Later, O’Keeffe incorporated Asian influences into her wardrobe, including kimonos, caftans, and capes, often in her trademark black and white. The artist’s years in New Mexico also came to influence her wardrobe palette, when she began styling herself in the colours of the desert landscape, including the yellows, pinks and reds of the rocks and cliffs of her surroundings. “This exhibition reveals O’Keeffe’s commitment to core principles associated with modernism—minimalism, seriality, simplification—not only in her art, but also in her distinctive style of dress,” says Lisa Small, curator of European painting and sculpture at the Brooklyn Museum. Living Modern also represents a homecoming of sorts for O’Keeffe, who had her first solo museum exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in 1927. Closer to home, don’t miss the retrospective, Georgia O’Keeffe, now showing at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto until July 30th with more than 80 of the artist’s works on view.

Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern is on view at the Brooklyn Museum through July 23.

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