Georgia O’Keeffe, Red Poppy (1927)

My wife and I are in Albuquerque for the weekend, attending this year’s American Studies Association Convention. Yesterday we were in Santa Fe and had the opportunity to visit the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, which is currently showing an exhibition entitled “Georgia O’Keeffe and the Camera: The Art of Identity.” The exhibition runs through February 1, 2009. The exhibition brings together selections of O’Keeffe’s work from the museum’s permanent collection and photographs of the artist taken by Alfred Stieglitz, Arnold Newman, John Loengard, and others.

A number of quotations from O’Keeffe about her work were displayed on the walls along with the art and the photographs. I was particularly struck by this one:

I’ll tell you how I happened to make the blown-up flowers. In the
twenties, huge buildings sometimes seemed to be going up overnight in
New York. At that time I saw a painting by Fantin-Latour, a still-life
with flowers I found very beautiful, but I realized that were I to
paint the same flowers so small, no one would look at them because I
was unknown. So I thought I’ll make them big like the huge buildings
going up. People will be startled; they’ll have to look at them — and
they did.

The quotation was taken from an interview with O’Keeffe in The Artist’s Voice (1960), conducted by Katherine Kuh. The museum’s website has a page devoted to O’Keeffe’s New York years (1918-1929).