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O'Keeffe On Paper (National Gallery of Art Publications)
ISBN 0810966980 / 9780810966987 / 0-8109-6698-0
Publisher Harry N. Abrams
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The world knows Georgia O'Keeffe for her monumental paintings of flowers, shells and sun-drenched New Mexico landscapes. She also worked on a smaller scale in watercolour, pastels and charcoal, experimenting with themes and ideas. Fifty-five of her drawings are illustrated in O'Keeffe on Paper, which accompanies an exhibition organised by the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe. The images work at several levels: viewing what at first seem brightly coloured, jewel-like abstractions, with titles such as Pond in the Woods and Portrait of Paul Strand, we suddenly become aware of more complex, realistic forms. Witty and accessible, O'Keeffe's drawings remind us to recognise significance and beauty in our daily surroundings. The book's supporting essays are well-written and useful. The first, which puts O'Keeffe in the context of her teachers and colleagues, is an excellent survey of the early 20th-century American avant-garde; the second explores the evolution of O'Keeffe's ideas, developing her youthful question, "If one can only reproduce nature, and always with less beauty than the original, why paint at all?" and the last is a detailed analysis of the materials she used. An extra dimension is given by photographs of O'Keeffe at work and some illuminating pictures by artists who influenced her. Reflecting a statement by the critic John Canaday quoted early in the book--"In a drawing artists give us at full strength, but with minimum elaboration, the essence of whatever they have to say"--the images in O'Keeffe on Paper are deceptively simple but very satisfying. --John Stevenson [via]