Monday, March 10, 2014

Flower Power

Georgia O'Keefe is a wonderful artist; her style is unmistakeable. She's an iconic figure in the Southwest with her spare, timeless looks. What I didn't know is that most of her well-known paintings, especially those giant flowers, were painted early in her career, long before she moved to New Mexico and became a household name. The current show at the deYoung takes an interesting look at her earlier works and the influence her mentor/husband, Alfred Stieglitz, had on her work. There is also an interesting little movie in the show that talks about her life in the desert, but the works themselves are from the time in New York, especially in the Adirondack compound on Lake George owned by Stieglitz's family. 

Cousin Jan and I spent an enjoyable couple of hours at this show which, interestingly, was overwhelmingly visited by women if our sample is representative. I guess the idea of giant flower paintings puts most guys off?  In any case, we enjoyed seeing those, but especially her lesson-known works. There was a wonderful painting of the glowing red maples in fall - since I have been to the Adirondacks in that season, I realized that she wasn't exaggerating the colors at all - the flaming hardwood trees are made to seem even brighter by their juxtaposition with dark green conifers. Perhaps my favorite of these works was the quietest of the whole show, a wonderful barn with a light dusting of snow. Very little color was used and yet the visual impact was powerful.

After absorbing all we could of the show for the moment, we sauntered into the museum cafe for a little lunch. I am tickled by the way the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, (which runs both the Legion and the deYoung) have recently begun theming their menu offerings to the current shows. This time, a Waldorf salad with chicken (in honor of her New York years, one supposes) was decorated with the same pansies shown in some of her large flower paintings. Having just seen some of these in the show, I really noticed the details of the flowers. Jan and I split the salad and a pastrami sandwich they called the "Nu Yawka." A little corny but, hey, at least they are trying and it was pretty good. It wasn't a true New York Reuben, but it was Reubenesque.

We came away with lots of strong images playing in our heads as we drove home. A different kind of flower power, all good.

10 Comments:

Blogger Greg said...

That salad is a work of art!

Monday, March 10, 2014  
Blogger Namastenancy said...

The purple pansy painting is part of the de Young's permanent collection so it will be there once the show closes. I think that the de Young also owns a couple more of her works. If anything, the show downplayed the enormous influence Stieglitz had on her career. It is very possible that without his sponsorship and promotion that she would have been an unknown art teacher all her life. Very few women artists of that era - or any others - have risen to such fame.

Monday, March 10, 2014  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Greg, it was, indeed.

Nancy, my favorite of her works is in the SFMOMA, dry hills with just a trickle of green down the seam. I thought the show was almost oppressive in its treatment of how important Stieglitz was to her personally and professionally - he and his family are mentioned at every turn and on many of the raisons. And then the stinker went and had an affair! He was a mixed blessing.

Monday, March 10, 2014  
Blogger Namastenancy said...

Georgia had many, many, many affairs including one that was before his first affair after they got married. She also left him for 6-8 months at a time so that she could go off and paint.

Sorry you found the mentions of Stieglitz oppressive but the show was only stating the trugh.

Monday, March 10, 2014  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Nancy, I wonder why they only mentioned his affair? Or did I miss something?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014  
Blogger Namastenancy said...

O'Keeffe is still a goddess/ icon who can do no wrong for many in the art world. I thought the same way until I read a number of biographies.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014  
Anonymous Lisa Paul said...

I've been meaning to get to this show. Thanks for the reminder.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Lisa, it's interesting and there are lots of examples of her work.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014  
Blogger Diane said...

Beautifully written word photographs of the exhibit. I love this trend to pairing food with the art. A friend and I had a similar experience at the National Gallery in DC, offering Spanish dishes in connection with an exhibit of some Spanish artists.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Diane, glad to see you here! I'm still dreaming about your photos of Paris.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014  

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