The Traveling Exhibition of Georgia O’Keeffe at Centre Pompidou

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The Traveling Exhibition of Georgia O’Keeffe at Centre Pompidou
From September 8th until December 6th, the Centre Pompidou is presenting the first retrospective in France of Georgia O’Keeffe, undoubtedly one of the most important North American artists of the 20th century. O’Keeffe’s Jimson Weed/White Flower No 1, painted in 1932, sold at auction in 2014 for a staggering $44,405,000, which made it the most expensive painting sold by a woman artist in the world. Exhibiting around 100 works, paintings, designs and photographs, this exceptional exhibition has only been possible thanks to the participation of the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum of Santa Fe, the MOMA of New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum of Madrid (where the exhibition started,) and private collectors who generously lent their paintings. Georgia O’Keeffe with Matisse Sculpture © Alfred Stieglitz, Wikimedia Commons O’Keeffe, of course, is primarily known for her oversized flower paintings, and many of these including Inside Red Canna, Jimson Weed/White Flower No 1, Oriental Poppies, White Iris No 7 and Aron 1V will be displayed alongside some of her earlier abstract works, Evening Star painted in 1917 and Black Lines in 1916. The monumental, orange and yellow From the Plains 11, painted in 1954, is the second version of a painting executed in 1919, and along with Black Mesa Landscape New Mexico, painted in 1930, Rams Head, White Hollyhock Hills and Black Door with Red, all illustrate the inspiration and influence of the New Mexico landscape where O’Keeffe eventually made her home. Georgia O’Keeffe, Red Canna, 1919 But New York came before New Mexico, and the New York skyline could not fail to inspire O’Keeffe, resulting in amongst others, New York Street with Moon and The Ritz Tower 1928, both in the exhibition. Before New York, before New Mexico, came Wisconsin where O’Keeffe was born in 1887, the eldest of five girls in a family of seven children. O’Keeffe was the daughter of a successful farmer, trading in horses and cattle, dairy and crops. The O’Keeffe’s farmhouse, outside Sun Prairie, near Madison, looked out over vast acres of rolling farm land, high with wheat in summer, and covered in snow in winter, and O’Keeffe, as with her siblings, helped out with the horses and in the vegetable garden and in the house, cooking and sewing. O’Keeffe’s mother, Ida, was a resolutely progressive woman, determined that her girls would have as good an education as possible, and although O’Keeffe professed to have hated school and learned nothing there, private painting and drawing lessons when she was 11 left O’Keeffe in no doubt that her future was already set. She was going to be an artist. O’Keeffe’s talent was apparent from an early age and when the family moved to Virginia in 1902 when she was 15 years old, O’Keeffe was known as “the queen of the art studios” in the private Chatham Episcopal Institute where she was a boarder.

Lead photo credit : Outside The Center Pompidou Paris © Pixabay

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After some dreary years in the Civil Service, Marilyn realized her dream of living in Paris. She arrived in Paris in December 1967 and left in July 1969. From there she lived in Mallorca, London, Oman, and Dubai, where she moved with her husband and young son and worked for Gulf News, Khaleej Times and freelanced for Emirates Woman magazine. During this time she was also a ground stewardess for Middle East Airlines. For the past 18 years they've lived on the Isle of Wight.


  • Michele Kurlander
    2021-10-02 01:03:00
    Michele Kurlander
    Thank you so much Marilyn! The very last thing I did before I left Paris early this week (after a month in France - making up for being kept out for over two years ) was to go to the O'Keefe exhibit. It was wonderful. And I adored the little video with her being interviewed and hearing her say, among other things, that the sexual aspedts of her flowers are in our heads, not her intent. The biographical landmarks on the four walls at the start were helpful, but your article so much more so, filling in more details, so thank you for that. Also - thank you for the Steiglitz photo. We were told in the exhibit that he liked to photograph her nude, but no example was provided. Truly enjoyed your article. I may do some more reading about Her now - seeing her as so much more than the painter of the sexual flowers!