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Georgia O’Keeffe: Abstraction, Whitney Museum

James Kalm partakes in the press preview for this icon of American Modernism. Over twenty years in the making, this exhibition surveys the lesser known but perhaps more profound side of O’Keeffe’s work, her abstraction. Beginning with her discovery and eventual relationship with Alfred Stieglitz in 1916, O’Keeffe was thrust to the stratosphere of the New York art scene. She was at the forefront of pursuing a type of organic abstraction that Stieglitz championed as America’s contribution to Modernism. Examples of O’Keeffe’s paintings covering nearly fifty years of development are on view. Includes brief statements by Director Adam D. Weinberg and the curatorial team lead by Barbara Haskell, Barbara Buhler Lynes and Sasha Nicholas.

O'Keeffe's sexual imagery

As I commented on another site, in response to the opinion that O'Keeffe's "fearless prettiness" was more eerie and ineffable than sexual:

Of course the imagery is sexual. Some of the rooms are hung wall-to-wall with imagery of moist, dripping, labial vaginas, which I mentioned at the press preview, much to the amused "shock" of museum director Adam Weinberg. Perhaps his shock came from the obviousness of my comment rather than its being particularly outré.

Haskell does a good job "rehabilitating" O'Keeffe as an abstractionist, not only part of the continuum of the (male dominated) modernist canon but indeed one of its earliest practitioners in the 19-teens and -20s. For Haskell it's the fulfillment of a project in long gestation, a feminist repositioning of O'Keeffe, and a labor of love. She is to be congratulated for this, and also for not inflicting another bleached steer skull on us.