Thursday, 6 October 2016

Artistically Inclined

Georgia O'Keefe, Tate Modern, London. September 2016.

I discovered O'Keefe's work through Ansel Adams. They took inspiration from the same locations and he took several portraits of her. I wasn't that familiar with much of her work however, although as soon as I saw some of her pictures, uncredited on posters, I knew they were by her.

From entering the exhibition I was immersed into her world, her colours and her ideas. Each room held images that I was instantly drawn too and even the more abstract works, which I usually skim past, had an impact on me.

I also liked seeing O'Keefe's work put into context with Stieglitz and Adams (amongst others) and I did spend a lot of time looking at them in detail too.

However as this was supposed to be an O'Keefe exhibition I was a little concerned how many of their works, and how much prominence they were given. At the start of the exhibition I did find that Stieglitz's works were overshadowing O'Keefe's, not in size or colour but quantity. This did reduce as the exhibition continued, and I suppose as he 'discovered' her and was her husband this is understandable but as the tagline for the exhibition is her desire to be taken as the best artist and not just the best female artist I am still a little perturbed.

Unsurprisingly the images from the American southwest were among my favourites, as an amateur photographer I love the colours and light in that area, I could feel the desert warmth shining through. I surprised myself however by liking the more abstract images - the desert through windows created by bleached bones in particular.
Pedernal 1945 / image from
Her images of New York just before the Crash of 1929 were also stunning. Although often stylized or impressionistic I found O'Keefe's work to be incredibly photographic in style, and her ability to make things look three dimensional was stunning.

I think that my admiration and love of her work comes from the fact that she painted scenes that I like to photograph and I now really want to go back to the desert.

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