Munich, Germany – The Kunsthalle of the Hypo Cultural Foundation is proud to host the first comprehensive retrospective of American artist Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) in Germany. The exhibition “Georgia O’Keeffe: Life and Works” will be on view from February 3rd through May 13th, and features around 75 paintings, works on paper and sculptures providing an overview of her work. The exhibitions shows all phases of O’Keeffe’s work, from her first abstract works of the 1910s, through the paintings of flowers and natural formations from the 1920s followed by the famous New York cityscapes and pictures of Lake George. The vast landscapes of New Mexico, with the typical local architecture and still life, animal skulls form a climax.
Georgia O’Keeffe’s work, is generally unknown beyond American shores, a situation for which Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) was primarily responsible. As America’s first modernist photographer and its first advocate of modern art, he introduced O’Keeffe’s art to the New York art community in 1916, and he became her dealer that year and her husband in 1924. As the most ardent promoter of her work, he made O’Keeffe’s art accessible to New Yorkers with the annual exhibitions of it that he organized from 1923 until his death in 1946. By 1929, his promotional efforts had realized sales that made O’Keeffe a millionaire in today’s money, which provided her complete financial security. In the beginning decades of the twentieth century, Stieglitz resented the fact that American art was not regarded with the same degree of importance as that of the Europeans. He became committed to the then revolutionary idea that American artists could create an art indigenous to America that would be valued with the same acclaim as that of the European masters. As a result, he refused to send the work of any of the artists he supported to exhibitions outside of the United States: Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, John Marin, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Paul Strand, feeling that if people wanted to see American art, they should come to America. Thus, these artists works were and remain little known outside of the United States. O’Keeffe works are currently in several European collections as a result of recent gifts from The Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation, which dissolved in 2006. Also, in the last ten years, exhibitions of O’Keeffe’s work have taken place in England, Spain, and Switzerland. But none has been presented in either Germany or Italy. This retrospective exhibition will thus be the first to acquaint these European audiences with O’Keeffe’s extraordinary works.
The exhibition will be made up primarily of work from the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum collection, which houses more than half of the artist’s entire output, with a few works from other American and European collections. Examples of O’Keefe’s work in charcoal, watercolor, oil, and her sculptures will represent her creative efforts in each of these media. Moreover, selections of works from each decade in the seventy years she was active as an artist (1915-1984) will provide an overview of the kinds of subjects that interested her, from her abstractions of the 1910s, to her innovative and famous large-scale paintings of the 1920s, which include flowers, other natural forms, as well as New York city pictures. The show will also include works from the decades O’Keeffe worked in both New York and New Mexico, 1929 to 1949, when she made the area her permanent home), such as the many landscape and architectural forms she produced in both places, as well as her famous paintings of subjects specific to New Mexico: architecture, bones, skulls, and paintings of its highly colored and dramatic landscape configurations. In addition, the exhibition will include works she produced after moving to New Mexico in 1949 as well as those that were inspired by her travels beyond American shores that began in 1951. Indeed, she travelled extensively, making several trips around the world, until the early 1980s, when illness made it impossible for her to travel. The exhibition will also present photographs of O’Keeffe made by Stieglitz, who photographed her from 1917 until the mid-1930s, when he put his camera down. Other photographs of O’Keeffe that date from both before and after Stieglitz’s death will be on view, such as images by Ansel Adams, Todd Webb, Andy Warhol, Don Worth, to name only a few. These photographs document two public images of O’Keeffe created through photography, a sexualized provocative O’Keeffe, which was the creation of Stieglitz beginning in the 1910s and the self-determined, serious, and uncompromising image that O’Keeffe created of herself from the 1920s to the end of her life.
The Kunsthalle in Munich is the most important and best-known institution of the Hypo Cultural Foundation. The exhibition house is located in a pedestrian zone of the Theatinerstraße located in the center of downtown. Since opening in 1985 it has hosted over 80 exhibitions. In 2001 a major expansion, designed by renowned Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron was built in the area of the “Five Houses”. The Kunsthalle now has some 1,200 m² of exhibition space with modern museum technology. The exhibition program is famed for its high quality and diverse subjects. The spectrum ranges from the pre-and early history (5000 BC) to the immediate present. Broader areas of art, such as prehistoric, non-European and inter-disciplinary issues are regularly exhibited, most recently with “Royal Tombs of the Scythians”. However, at the heart of the programme are the art exhibitions, ranging from old masters, such as “Venice – Paintings of the 18th Century”, “Madame de Pompadour”, “Italian Still Life” and “Frans Hals and Haarlem master of golden age”, to the modern classics, including Marc Chagall, Paul Gauguin, Alberto Giacometti, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Rene Magritte, Claude Monet, Edvard Munch, Emile Nolde, Pablo Picasso and Mark Rothko. The most successful exhibition in recent years was “Claude Monet and Modernism” (with 237,000 visitors). The Kunsthalle has an average of more than 300,000 visitors a year, and nearly 7 million art lovers have visited since its opening in 1985. Visit the Kunsthalle’s website at … http://www.hypo-kunsthalle.de