Evaluate: Georgia O’Keeffe’s Photography at the MFAH

Yoshiko Yap
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Visible artwork is again in a big way at the Museum of Great Arts, Houston, and Georgia O’Keeffe’s work as a photographer is one of their current unique exhibits. Surprising and illuminating, this selection of her do the job reveals one more dimension of O’Keeffe’s creative eyesight, one that is different from her well-known photographer partner, Alfred Stieglitz

O’Keeffe was a single of the initial women of all ages to obtain essential acclaim from the artwork entire world in New York, and her very simple, however profound, visuals of the organic globe permitted viewers to see the summary in what was customarily concrete. Most famed for her paintings, this is the initially exhibit to focus generally on her pictures. 

The format of the show is an appealing juxtaposition of her photographs, a few decide on paintings, and photos taken of her by her close friend and fellow photographer Todd Webb (1905-2000). It’s practically a collage of her—both equally powering and in entrance of a camera—with her paintings acting as a reminder that she utilised pics equally as inspirations, as perfectly as a way to capture normal pictures of what she had previously painted. Her photography was woven into her other inventive endeavors, and the exhibition mirrors the way photography complemented her paintings. 

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O’Keeffe’s photos were occasionally reports that have been taken extensive immediately after a painting was done. Most times the pictures are functions only for themselves: Polaroid snapshots of close friends, the image of a doorway, ladder, or a road, a glimpse of mother nature that captured her beloved Southwest, or even her New York abode, embellished by legendary totems of the western landscape. 

Functions like Antelope, (1943-46) exemplify O’Keeffe’s affinity for nature. Numerous of the exhibition’s showcased images were being views around her property in New Mexico, from snow to sun and shrubs. The visuals are time capsules of not only the landscape she inhabited, but of her adventures: Glen Canyon in Utah and Arizona (sacred land to the Zuni, who considered it the spot where humans emerged), the Black Sands of Maui, and White House Forget and Spider Rock in the 1950s. 

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She has a sequence comparable to Claude Monet’s water lilies and haystacks, but with photographs: Significant Sage, (1957) has its unique versions, as do her Chow Chow pet dogs. And of training course, bouquets, as with the photos in the Jimsonweed series of 1964-68. It is all good, but even far better when there is a portray to remind us of how reality was translated into artwork, as in White Flower, (1929). Occasionally the photographs appear very first, normally they arrive later — even many years afterwards. 

The pictures of her (typically) Southwestern surroundings are equally juxtaposed and contextualized by her paintings and drawings. The drawings are minimalist, probably unfinished, but certainly not as effective of an working experience as the other will work. On the other hand, they give an outline of her sensibilities in conditions of form and operate. 

As the wall labels persuade, O’Keeffe’s desire in “aesthetic order and emotional expression” proves correct across her oeuvre. The most captivating section of the exhibition is looking at a portray this sort of as Small Purple Hills, (1934) change into a photograph practically 40 decades afterwards. It feels magical as if the same photographs ended up still dramatic enough to hold capturing, even in excess of many years.

From the 1950s to the 1970s, O’Keeffe took a wide variety of images, numerous of which experimented with light-weight, shadow and the geometric proportions of the domestic and pure worlds. The exhibition’s style pays homage to O’Keeffe’s fascination with visual tropes these types of as window frames, ladders, prolonged roadways that guide your creativeness about the horizon, and doors that can lead you in or out. Her images, dominated by windows, doorways, and streets, usually direct to a reconsideration of what it usually means to seem at the planet around us.

Ga O’Keeffe, Photographer is on check out at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston by means of January 17, 2022. For far more information on tickets and museum hours, go to in this article

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