NARRATOR: In 1918, O’Keeffe moved from Texas to New York, where she painted 59th St. Studio. The painting invites us to peer through a loosely-shaped doorframe between rooms. A soft light comes in through an elongated window—its oddly beautiful, glowing color suggesting an urban, street-lit dusk. The sharply pointed white and colored planes declare the painting’s modernity, introducing a new cosmopolitan edge.
O’Keeffe’s starting point here is clearly architecture—not nature, as it has been in the works we have seen so far. Yet the overall form of the painting resembles ones we’ve seen earlier in this exhibition. Light and colored planes suggest a dynamic movement around the painting’s edges, while the dark interior has a warm, enveloping quality. The painting doesn’t tell us much about the physical place, but it gives us hints about her attitude towards that place.
O’Keeffe lived and worked in this East 59th Street studio, which belonged to Alfred Stieglitz’s niece. The gallerist gave O’Keeffe a year’s financial assistance so that she could devote all of her energy to painting, without having to teach. During that year, their relationship deepened and Stieglitz moved into the studio. O’Keeffe and Stieglitz were married in 1924.