The Whitney's Collection: Selections from 1900 to 1965

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“I think that’s what our collection aims to be—to really ground people in the work of the particular moment, but also to show how historical work can have new resonance in our contemporary moment.”
—David Breslin, DeMartini Family Curator and Director of the Collection

Hear from a range of artists, curators, and scholars speaking about works on view.

Georgia O’Keeffe, Music, Pink and Blue No 2, 1918

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Narrator: With its soft, petal-like folds, this painting by Georgia O’Keeffe seems floral—but it doesn’t depict any particular flower. It’s an abstraction that the artist has rooted in natural form. When O’Keeffe painted this canvas in 1918, abstract art was very new and radical: the first fully abstract paintings had been made only eight years earlier. But the title that O’Keeffe has given this work—Music Pink and Blue—hints that the ideas behind abstract art were already part of western culture. It had long been understood that music was expressive—even when it had no narrative or representational content. By likening her painting to music, O’Keeffe suggests that pure form and color can have expressive power too. 

Wanda Corn: One of the features of this painting is the beautiful sense of movement that you have where nothing is static in the picture. 

Narrator: Wanda Corn is a historian of American Art.

Wanda Corn: You feel as if every form is breathing and opening up to the form next to it. This was a very important concept of keeping forms in the stage of becoming. This was something that artists tried to do in their abstractions in the late '10s, and O'Keeffe is responding to that notion of time not stopping, of there being a constant movement in the work itself. 

Narrator: With its soft, petal-like folds, this painting by Georgia O’Keeffe seems floral—but it doesn’t depict any particular flower. It’s an abstraction that the artist has rooted in natural form. When O’Keeffe painted this canvas in 1918, abstract art was very new and radical: the first fully abstract paintings had been made only eight years earlier. But the title that O’Keeffe has given this work—Music Pink and Blue—hints that the ideas behind abstract art were already part of western culture. It had long been understood that music was expressive—even when it had no narrative or representational content. By likening her painting to music, O’Keeffe suggests that pure form and color can have expressive power too. 

Wanda Corn: One of the features of this painting is the beautiful sense of movement that you have where nothing is static in the picture. 

Narrator: Wanda Corn is a historian of American Art.

Wanda Corn: You feel as if every form is breathing and opening up to the form next to it. This was a very important concept of keeping forms in the stage of becoming. This was something that artists tried to do in their abstractions in the late '10s, and O'Keeffe is responding to that notion of time not stopping, of there being a constant movement in the work itself. 


Georgia O'Keeffe, Music, Pink and Blue No. 2, 1918. Oil on canvas, 35 x 29 15/16 in. (88.9 x 76 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Emily Fisher Landau in honor of Tom Armstrong 91.90. © The Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York