July 27, 2019

Discovered Georgia O’ Keefe’s New York Skyscrapers series yesterday. Love it!

The New York Paintings, Georgia O’ Keefe

When i think of Georgia O’Keefe, I usually think of New Mexico. Certainly not New York. She is renowned for her beautiful renderings of Taos, and her museum is located in Santa Fe. While her base is certainly out west, I hadn’t realized that she had also made her mark on New York City. 

New York City??

I would be lying if I said that it didn’t blow my mind a bit. So I looked into it.

Georgia O’Keefe moved into one of the skyscrapers that had so inspired her. She lived in a two-room apartment on the 30th floor of the Shelton Hotel [now the New York Marriott, East Side]  in 1925, with Afred Stieglitz, her then-husband. 

The building was seated in inspiration; the skyscrapers on 48th and 49th street surrounded them. They were treated to a grand view of the city, which spurred her new collection. 

“I know it’s unusual for an artist to want to work way up near the roof of a big hotel, in the heart of a roaring city, but I think that’s just what the artist of today needs for stimulus….Today the city is something bigger, grander, more complex than ever before in history.” She said.

In 1925, skyscrapers were seen as a symbol of the modern world; kind of like computers or mobile phones are today. It was new. It was seen as a symbol of great success, and America was on top. This was their invention, after all. Many artists wanted to capture it

Not sure how much or if she was influenced by it but in 1929 the perception quickly shifted. What had been heralded as huge success would come to represent America’s failure with the great crash. It caused many to become disillusioned with the towering structures.

That was the year she abruptly stopped painting them. She had divorced Alfred only a year into their marriage, so she had no ties to New York. She moved on to Mable Dodge Luhann’s ranch Taos, New Mexico to produce the signature work more recognizable today. 

c. bsm

What art is around you? What are you discovering? Tell me in the comments.

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