NARRATOR: O’Keeffe painted two canvases of the façade of her adobe home in Abiquiu, New Mexico. This façade was just her starting point. Wide expanses of nearly flat paint dominate both paintings, punctuated by schematic forms that depict O’Keeffe’s front door and patio. The compositions are more or less the same, but one is an intense sunset-red while the other is pure white, bleached by blinding heat or snowy cold.
Though O’Keeffe was remote from the art world when she made these paintings, they were very much of their moment.
BARBARA HASKELL: In the fifties, after she had moved to New Mexico for good she created paintings that in some ways announced a vocabulary that became the precedent for a younger generation. Instead of flowing, undulating forms that she’d used earlier in her career, she chose these large expanses of geometric color.
NARRATOR: This bold, planar vocabulary put her in dialogue with a much younger generations of artists—abstract expressionists like Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko, as well as young geometric abstractionists such as Ellsworth Kelly.
We’ll conclude our tour with the two reddish-pink watercolors hung together on the wall to your left. When you’ve found a comfortable spot in front of them, please press the PLAY button.