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Desert Abstraction

Georgia O'Keeffe, Desert Abstraction (Bear Lake), 1931, oil on canvas, 16 1/2 x 36 1/2 in. On long term loan to the New Mexico Museum of Art from the Museum of New Mexico Foundation (1984.336) Photo by Blair Clark © Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

Desert Abstraction

Secondary Title:Bear Lake
Artist: Georgia O'Keeffe (American, 1887 - 1986)
Date: 1931
Medium: oil on canvas
Dimensions:
Support: 15 15/16 × 35 13/16 in. (40.5 × 91 cm)
Frame: 16 1/2 × 36 × 1 1/4 in. (41.9 × 91.4 × 3.2 cm)
Classification: Painting
Credit Line: Gift of the Museum of New Mexico Foundation in honor of the New Mexico Museum of Art's Centennial year, 2017
Keywords and Associated Locations:
Object number: 1984.336
Description
Like many American artists during the 20th century, Georgia O’Keeffe wanted a Modernism that was distinctly American in both its form and content. While some of her contemporaries looked to cites, industry, or American social culture for this subject matter, O’Keeffe set her eyes on the Southwest and its distinctive geography. O’Keeffe’s approach to abstraction involved simplifying natural forms to their most basic visual elements. The spare desert landscape is particularly well suited to this way of seeing, and O’Keeffe used the land as content for her abstract compositions. Untitled (Desert Abstraction) can be seen as both a landscape and an abstract arrangement of varied colors, shapes and textures and is equally successful either way. Before being acquired by the Museum of New Mexico Foundation, this painting was hung in both Alfred Stieglitz’s Gallery, and in the New York home of the original collector as it is currently on view. However, it later began to be hung and reproduced in the opposite orientation. Once the painting became a part of the museum’s collection, and when prompted by a request from the family of the original owner, we investigated further. Reviewing historic photographs and an inscription by O’Keeffe on the back of the painting, the decision was made to display the artwork in this, its original orientation. That being said, this is a successful abstraction, and it works as a painting either way you hang it. (Waguespack, 2018).
On view
Publication and Exhibition History: 12/27/1931 - 1932 Exhibit: "Georgia O’Keeffe: 33 New Paintings (New Mexico)"; An American Place, New York City, New York 9/14/1984 - Fall 1985 Exhibit: "O'Keeffe and Her Contemporaries"; New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico 7/17/1997 - 11/2/1997 Exhibit: "Georgia O'Keeffe's New Mexico"; New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico 7/14/2000 - 4/22/2001 Exhibit: "The Railroad to Trinity"' New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico 6/30/2001 - 9/9/2001 Exhibit: "Carr, O’Keeffe, Kahlo: Places of Their Own"; McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg, Ontario, Canada