Posts Tagged ‘University of Virginia’

Lovely Respite In The Gallery …

January 24, 2019

Earlier this week I got to see an exhibition at a local gallery. It was a real treat.

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The venue, the Fralin Museum of Art (the former Bayly Museum) at the University of Virginia is small but quite well laid out and is well worth a visit anytime you are nearby. The exhibit highlights early works by Georgia O’Keefe … especially those that were done while she was living in Charlottesville VA and was a student and later an assistant instructor in UVa’s summer program.

Anyone who has studied O’Keefe’s early paintings and images-1drawings knows that she was influenced by many of the contemporaneous art movements including Fin de Siècle design, Post-Impressionism, the Symbolist movement, the ideas of Wassily Kandinsky, and most especially the ideas and later the instruction of Arthur Wesley Dow. You can see all those elements in her work in this exhibition. The curators of the show have included lots of historical ephemera, books and class registration materials from O’Keefe’s summers at UVa, as well as sketches and photographs.

This exhibition concentrates on Georgia O’Keefe’s work as she was transitioning from her more memetic early training at the Chicago Art Institute and the New York Art Students’s League to her much more personal way of working that utilized strategies of abstraction. The two works above are early watercolors of the building on the grounds of UVa that show Dow’s influence with an emphasis on design and the hybridizing of traditional Western and East Asian art.

The old studio art (and sometimes art history) professor part of me really loved getting to piece together what I already knew about her work and life with all the added details located here. And the inveterate sketcher in me was tickled to see the onsite watercolors from the university campus (if you are a UVa alum, sorry for not calling it “grounds”) too.

But my favorite part … what got me really excited … was seeing here the process of O’Keefe becoming a more expressive abstractionist. That is best seen in the small watercolors inspired by the hills and mountains of the Ragged Mountains and Blue Ridge of the Appalachians. She experienced them directly; exploring, hiking, and camping in those peaks and valleys which are visible to the southwest and west of  Charlottesville.

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pictured above and below are: Blue Hill II, Pink and Blue Mountain, and Evening.                   Watercolors on paper, all 1916 

These watercolors are are small and simple. And, to me, profoundly compelling in their fresh, simple directness. There is certainly more than a few hint of the much more well known, even famous, early watercolors she created soon after while she was teaching in western Texas. The charcoal drawings and watercolor of this period launched her career as a seminal figure in early 20th century American modernist art. And they are fun to look at too!

If you can get to the exhibit before it closes, I recommend the visit.  If not, I am sorry; but you could contact the Georgia O’Keefe Museum in Santa Fe. That museum organized a similar exhibition that ran from 2014-2016. They might just have made a catalog for that show.

Thanks for reading here today. If you have any questions or thoughts, please do comment below or get in touch via email. You can also connect via my website.

 

 


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