NARRATOR: Welcome to Georgia O’Keeffe: Abstraction.
BARBARAHASKELL: Georgia O’Keeffe is known—celebrated—for her landscapes, her flowers, her paintings of pelvis bones, and the realistic subjects.
NARRATOR: Exhibition Curator Barbara Haskell.
BARBARAHASKELL: And yet, throughout her career she did abstractions. It was the first thing she did, and in a sense, the last thing she did.
NARRATOR: Abstraction played a fundamental role in O’Keeffe’s art. It gave her a way to express feelings that she could not express in words. Many of O’Keeffe’s abstractions don’t contain recognizable imagery. They focus on her experience of people and places, rather than on realistic appearances. Some abstract works—like the large 1963 painting in this introductory area—take the natural world and distill it to its most basic elements. As the artist explains in this 1970s interview, she painted this work after looking out over the sky from an airplane window.
GEORGIA O’KEEFFE: I was flying out from the big city, and the sky looked like you could just go out the door of the plane and walk right out to the horizon, the clouds looked so solid. Well, I couldn’t wait to get back to paint it.
NARRATOR: The boldly planar form of the sky and dense rhythm of the receding clouds allow us to share her sense that we might just walk off into the horizon.
Our tour continues in the gallery to the right. There, we’ll see some of O’Keeffe’s earliest abstractions. Just look for the numbered audio label.