October 2, 2007 - Vancouver Art Gallery - Intimate Look into the world of Georgia O’Keeffe
October 2, 2007

Intimate Look into the world of Georgia O’Keeffe

Intimate Look into the world of Georgia O'Keeffe​

Vancouver Art Gallery
750 Hornby Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H7

The Vancouver Art Gallery will present a sweeping retrospective of paintings by legendary Modernist Georgia O’Keeffe from October 6, 2007 to January 13, 2008. Georgia O’Keeffe: Nature and Abstraction is the second solo exhibition of O’Keeffe’s work ever presented in Canada and the first in 50 years. Comprising a stunning collection of more than 30 canvases spanning the artist’s entire career, the exhibition is punctuated by an important selection of photographs of O’Keeffe as a young woman taken by husband and fellow artist, Alfred Stieglitz, and of the artist later in life captured by renowned American photographer Todd Webb. Guest curated by Richard D. Marshall, former curator at the Whitney Museum of Art, the exhibition is the product of an innovative collaboration between the Vancouver Art Gallery and Irish Museum of Modern Art.

Presenting O’Keeffe’s iconic landscapes and nature studies, the exhibition illuminates the dominant aspect of her artistic achievement and inspiration–the transformation of nature into abstraction. This collection of key works, brought together from major collections throughout the United States and Europe, demonstrates the artist’s determination to re-interpret the world by expressing its essential elements of form, colour and allusion. A comprehensive survey of her career, the exhibition includes O’Keeffe’s highly abstract early works inspired by music, key paintings from her time in upstate New York, as well as a large selection of important paintings from the most iconic and enduring portion of her career in New Mexico.

After discovering a passion for art as a student in Wisconsin, O’Keeffe enrolled in the Art Institute of Chicago in 1905. She continued her studies at the Arts Student League in New York City, where she made regular visits to the now mythical Gallery 291. Owned by her future husband, Alfred Stieglitz, the gallery gave O’Keeffe her first experiences with European avant-garde painters and, in 1917, presented the young artists first major solo exhibition. During the following decade, O’Keeffe lived in New York City and spent summers at the Stieglitz family home in Lake George, New York where she began painting her iconic close-up views of flowers.

Impressed by the stark beauty of New Mexico on a summer vacation in 1917, O’Keeffe returned to the state in 1934 on a trip to Ghost Ranch, a dude ranch she later bought in 1940. Although she continued to travel and paint in other locations, the cliffs, hills and trees that surround her New Mexico desert home became her central inspiration for the next 35 years. Throughout this time, O’Keeffe was the focus of increasingly prestigious exhibitions, including solo shows at the Brooklyn Museum (1927), the Art Institute of Chicago (1943), and New York’s Museum of Modern Art (1946), where she was the first woman to be featured in a retrospective.

Although O’Keeffe was a subject for many photographers in her lifetime, the two most prominent are Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) and Todd Webb (1905-2000). Throughout his life Stieglitz was many things to O’Keeffe, including art dealer, chief promotional advocate, and husband. Together they were often referred to as “the founding couple of American art.” Credited as a central force in the creation of photography as a legitimate art form, Stieglitz continuously used O’Keeffe as a muse for his images. The photographs included in the exhibition reflect his fascination with the artist and the intensity of their relationship, especially during their early years together.

After Stieglitz’s death in 1946, Webb developed a close relationship with O’Keeffe and documented the artist frequently until 1981. With encouragement from O’Keeffe, Webb and his wife moved to New Mexico in 1961. During the decade they lived near the artist, the photographer created a large volume of work featuring the painter in her studio, at her Ghost Ranch home and in the Southwest landscape that gave her inspiration, many of which are featured in the exhibition.

Media contact
Andrew Riley, Public Relations Manager, 604-662-4722,

Dana Sullivant, Director of Marketing and Communications, 604-662-4721

top image:
Georgia O’Keeffe
Series 1, No. 4, 1918
oil on canvas
Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich
Gift of Georgia OKeeffe Foundation, 1955
Copyright: Georgia OKeeffe Museum / Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus / SODRAC (2007)

Vancouver Art Gallery
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