WANDACORN: In O’Keeffe’s painting that she called Summer Days and painted in 1936, you have an extraordinary composition with a deer skull, or at least what appears to be a deer skull, hanging or floating in the sky, a few flowers underneath this skull, and then down at the horizon, you have the red hills of New Mexico. These are the hills near Ghost Ranch, where she had a studio in northern New Mexico at the time.
NARRATOR: Art historian Wanda Corn.
WANDACORN: O’Keeffe did a series of paintings of skulls. She started them in 1931. And she experimented with hanging them on what appears to be a post, or having them tacked to a wall. But in this one, it’s special because it seems to be simply a vision in the sky. You don’t see any way in which it’s attached to anything, but it simply floats in this beautiful white, luminous atmosphere of clouds. It’s a visionary painting.
In the 1930s, it would’ve been hard to escape the influence of Surrealism, which was exploring dream-like spaces, exploring spaces that are not based on, you know, Renaissance perspective, a kind of endless space that Surrealists would often feel was akin to the kind of space we experience in our dream-like states.