The beautifully designed art installation Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern presents multiple sides of the artistic life and persona O’ Keeffe crafted for herself through her art, fashion and independent lifestyle. In addition to the lush, bold paintings and sculptures one would expect to see in an O’ Keeffe show, what’s new and unique about this presentation are the various articles of clothing, shoes and minimalist jewelry that she wore.
Numerous photographs of her—taken by various photographers over her artistic career starting with her husband and photographer Alfred Stieglitz—are also on display. The exhibition contains over 200 objects, presented in four parts with five different themes.
The first section of the exhibition is devoted to New York in the 1920s and 30s, when she lived with famed photographer Alfred Stieglitz and made many of her own clothes, delicate white blouses and dresses made of linen, silk and crepe with her paintings hanging next to them.
On adjacent walls are multi-year, serial portraits of her by Stieglitz, which helped O’ Keeffe become one of the most photographed American artists in history and contributed to her understanding of photography’s power to shape public image.
O’ Keeffe’s years in New Mexico are featured in the second section, desert landscape paintings in yellow and pink with the red rocks and blue skies that also influenced her dress palette, which was previously black and white for many years. According to our tour guide, Georgia O’ Keeffe once said the reason she wore black was because if she had to choose colored clothes, she wouldn’t have time to paint. In her later years, O’ Keeffe bought colorful wraparound dresses that models used to wear as smocks when they were working for Neiman Marcus at fashion runway shows.
A third section explores the influence and importance of Asian aesthetics on O’ Keeffe’s personal style. The final section displays images made after Stieglitz’s era by photographers who came to visit her in the Southwest. One of the photographers is Bruce Weber, the only photographer to realize the meaning of clothes to her persona.
Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern is a part of the “Year of Yes: Reimaging Feminism at the Brooklyn Museum,” which celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art through ten diverse exhibitions and an extensive calendar of related public programs. The show runs March 3 – July 23, 2017