Monday, July 22, 2019

Georgia O’Keeffe: Artist and Style Icon

I’ve always admired the boldly original and sensual paintings—and the independent life and style—of the great Georgia O’Keeffe. Now I’m happy to report that the Nevada Museum of Art has just opened a dramatic and very thoughtful exhibition that pays homage to her art as well as her lifetime elegance and style, always trendsetting. The show closely examines her art…and her fashion style. As Diana Vreeland memorably said, “Style is consistency”. O’Keeffe’s style seldom veered from black and white. She admired simple silhouettes.

‘Georgia O’Keefe: Living Modern’ Presents a Fresh Look at the Iconic Artist's Are, Fashion, and Style

The Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, Nevada, is the sole venue in the western United States to host this traveling exhibition from the Brooklyn Museum that presents O’Keeffe’s wardrobe in dialogue with key paintings, photographs, jewelry, accessories, and ephemera. On view July 20 – October 20, 2019.

Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern expands the understanding of this icon in the context of her self-crafted public persona—including her clothing and even the way she posed for the camera and where and with certain props (stones, skulls, textiles).

The exhibition focuses closely on O’Keeffe’s wardrobe, shown for the first time alongside key paintings and photographs that confirm and explore her determination to control how the world understood her identity and artistic values. 

The show: Organized originally by the Brooklyn Museum, Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern is on view at the Nevada Museum of Art in downtown Reno. The Nevada Museum of Art is the only venue in the western United States to host the exhibition.

Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern opens with an introduction that demonstrates how O’Keeffe began to craft her signature clothing style as a high school student, dispensing with the bows and frills worn by young women at the time.

The exhibition continues in four parts. The first is devoted to New York in the 1920s and ’30s when she lived with Alfred Stieglitz and made many of her own clothes. It also examines Stieglitz’s multi-year, serial portrait project, which ultimately helped her to become one of the most photographed American artists in history.

Georgia O’Keeffe Show Catalog

For those who cannot travel to view the exhibit in Reno, there is an excellent catalog with the show.

It was written by the show’s curator, Wanda M. Corn, and published by the Brooklyn Museum.

The book, ‘Georgia O’Keeffe Living Modern’ is superbly illustrated in great detail, and focuses indepth on both her paintings and her apparel. She was a gifted seamstress/ tailor, and made many of her dresses, blouses, jackets. She also later worked closely with couturiers to craft and design beautiful dresses and coats.

On travels to Paris she found work jackets and later denim shirts. The book is highly detailed. Showing her lifelong wardrobe, even her shoe collections and jewelry, the makes clear she was a modernist, through and through. It’s an inspiring book and show. Bravo to Wanda Corn.

Her years in New Mexico comprise the second section, in which the desert landscape—surrounded by color in the yellows, pinks, and reds of rocks and cliffs, and the blue sky—influenced her painting and dress palette.

Georgia O’Keeffe passed away at the age of 98 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on March 6, 1986, but her style and artwork live on. 

To enhance this summer’s O’Keeffe experience, the Nevada Museum of Art has staged an additional exhibition to complement Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern.

On view through September 22, Georgia O’Keeffe: The Faraway Nearby, From the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico transports visitors to the artist’s outdoor lifestyle in the American Southwest. The beauty and elegance of Georgia O’Keeffe’s New Mexico paintings were prompted by the intimacy of her experience with the land. The artist made repeated camping trips to draw and paint at extraordinary sites across this region. This exhibition presents a selection of fifty objects of camping gear belonging to O’Keeffe— everything from her flashlight to her Stanley thermos—that made her trips to remote locations possible.

Rounding out the season of O’Keeffe, the Nevada Museum of Art will offer a host of public programs:

The American Look: Georgia O’Keeffe and the Fashion of Her Time
Friday, August 9 | noon 
Melissa Leventon is a specialist in European and American fashion and textiles. Through this lens, she will ask attendees to consider how the elements and sources of O’Keeffe’s signature wardrobe participate within the larger story of American fashion.

Georgia O’Keeffe: The Candid Camera
Thursday, August 29 | 6 pm
Dr. Ariel Plotek, Senior Director of Collections and Interpretation at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, will lend insight into the multiple ways O’Keeffe crafted her public persona through photography, including her relationship with Alfred Stieglitz.

Georgia O’Keeffe’s Sky
Friday, September 6 | noon 
Dr. Brett M. Van Hoesen, Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Nevada, Reno, will explore the representation of the southwest sky in O’Keeffe’s paintings and fashion as well as in photographs of the renowned artist. 

Throughout the run of the exhibition, the Museum Shop will offer O’Keeffe-themed merchandise and books, including the 320-page Living Modern authored by Wanda M. Corn. Published by Prestel, the publication is the winner of the 2018 Dedalus Foundation exhibition catalogue award.

The Nevada Museum of Art is the sole venue in the western United States to host Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern. Upon closing, the exhibition will travel to the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida.


Note: the excellent catalog that accompanies the Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern show is available through the Museum’s bookstore. Find it on the Museum’s website.

Images courtesy of the Nevada Museum of Art, used here with permission.

The Nevada Museum of Art
The Nevada Museum of Art permanent collection is divided into four thematic focus areas unified by an overarching focus on natural, built and virtual environments.: Altered Landscape Photography, Art of the Greater West, Contemporary Art, and the Work Ethic.

The Center for Art + Environment Archive Collections and Library serve scholars and researchers seeking information related to creative interactions between people and these various environments.

With its torqued exterior wall, suspended atrium staircase and views of Reno’s skyline, as well as the Sierra Nevada, the building is recognized as one of the most distinguished architectural achievements in the state.
The Nevada Museum of Art, 160 West Liberty Street in downtown Reno, Nevada. 
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Wednesday through Sunday 10am to 6pm; Thursdays until 8pm; Closed Mondays, Tuesdays and national holidays.

The four-level, 70,000-square-foot building is inspired by geological formations in northern Nevada’s Black Rock desert and serves as a visual metaphor for the institution’s scholarly focus on art and environment. Features 15,337 square feet of gallery space for major exhibitions, 180-seat multimedia theater for presentations and films, street-level sculpture galleries, E.L. Cord Museum School; and a 4,800 square-foot rooftop event space, the Fred W. Smith Penthouse, Nightingale Sky Room, Stacie Mathewson Sky Plaza.

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