Four recently acquired drawings by Georgia O'Keeffe will be among the highlights of Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz, an installation of work by the legendary painter and portraits of her taken by her husband, the photographer and gallery owner Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946). On view in the Museum's Eglin Gallery (165) from February 7 through May 23, 1999, Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz will include nine paintings and drawings by O'Keeffe (1887-1986) and ten of Stieglitz's renowned photographs of her spanning over a decade in their tumultuous relationship. The installation has been organized by Matthew S. Witkovsky, the Museum's Acting Assistant Curator of Photographs.
Acquired in 1997 from The Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation, the four spectacular drawings now making their debut at the Museum came directly from the artist's personal collection. O'Keeffe gave the title "Special" to two of the drawings, indicating the particular significance she ascribed to them within her body of work. Special No. 15 (1916), a very early charcoal drawing of the Palo Duro Canyon in Texas, not only conveys a remarkable and evocative sense of place, but also includes many of the formal elements that would recur throughout O'Keeffe's long career. Of the pencil drawing Special No. 40 (1934), O'Keeffe wrote: "This is from the sea—a shell—and paintings followed. Maybe not as good as this drawing."
Also in this group of O'Keeffe's drawings is a rare portrait of her friend the African American painter Beauford Delaney from the 1940s and a 1959 charcoal drawing of a riverbed in a desert, inspired by sketches the artist made during one of her first airplane flights. The Museum is fortunate to own seven paintings by Georgia O'Keeffe, five of which will be included in the installation. Among them are Orange and Red Streak (1919), From the Lake, No. 3 (1924), and Birch and Pine Tree, No. 1 (1925), three of four paintings bequeathed by O'Keeffe to the Museum in 1987.
Among the photographs of Georgia O'Keeffe by Alfred Stieglitz are four portraits dating from 1918 to 1920, the first years of their relationship in New York City. Two of these works are exquisite, close, and intimate studies of her hands. Stieglitz paid loving tribute here to what he saw as O'Keeffe's unconventional beauty, her profound sense of womanhood, and her identity as an artist. Later, in a study of O'Keeffe's hands from 1930, the changed terms of their relationship can be seen in the object she cradles: a bleached animal skull from the Southwest of the sort that would come to symbolize her art. Other portraits and photographs from the early to mid-1920s take as their setting the Stieglitz family home at Lake George in upstate New York, where Stieglitz pursued in photography the abstraction of natural forms that O'Keeffe had been exploring in her drawings and paintings.