I have just come back from the the brilliant Georgia O’Keeffe retrospective at the Tate Modern. It’s a really extensive show, spanning O’Keefe’s long, groundbreaking career from start to finish, and it is fascinating to see how her work progresses over time.
My favourite period is the New York cityscapes from the 1920s, with pieces such as ‘New York Street with Moon’ (1925) and ‘Ritz Tower Night’ (1928). Her vibrant colouring and dynamic compositions, featuring semi-abstracted, sharp-edged forms, convey a wonderful moody atmosphere and really capture the essence of the city.
I also really loved her flower paintings, for example ‘Oriental Poppies’ (1927) and ‘Dark Iris No 1’ (1927). Again, her colouring is exceptional, and her striking, sharp-edged, semi-abstracted forms and tightly-cropped, close-up composition, really capture the sensual beauty of organic natural forms.
I didn’t like everything, I must admit. I found her mountain landscapes, for example ‘Red and Yellow Cliffs (1940) a bit dull. And whilst some of her skull paintings are brilliant – I loved the series of eye-holes in close-up where the yellow greys of the bone contrast against intense blue of the sky, for example in ‘Pelvis IV’ (1944). However some of them, such as ‘From the Faraway Nearby’ (1937), did look a bit like 80s fantasy art.
Nevertheless, I found the exhibition really inspiring, and came out a big fan.