At a press conference at the  Brasserie Zedel, Tate Modern’s Director of Exhibitions Achim Borchardt-Hume and curator Tanya Barson revealed details of what to expect from this new retrospective of Georgia O’Keeffe’s work. 

Black Mesa Landscape, New Mexico/Out Back of Marie’s II, 1930, Georgia O’Keeffe. (C) Georgi O’Keeffe Museum.

Opening at the gallery in July, this is the first major retrospective of the American modernist painter Georgia O’Keeffe to take place in the UK for twenty years.

As well as being the first major exhibition to take place at the redesigned and rehung Tate Modern, the display will also offer an opportunity for visitors to get a new perspective of the artist’s work.

Marking one hundred years since O’Keeffe made her debut in New York in 1916, this new exhibition featuring 400 works will re-examine her place in 20th century art and her own profound importance.

Spaced across thirteen rooms and in chronological order, the main focus of the display will be between the years 1915 all the way through to the 1960’s and showcasing how O’Keeffe managed to inspire abstract artists in later years.

Georgia O’Keeffe was widely recognised as one of the founding figures in American modernism art and the Tate will explore closely the progression of her practise from her early abstract experiments all the way through to many of her late works – while aiming to clear through the cliches that still surround the artist and her paintings, with particular focus on whether her works were intended to be sexual – something which she denied constantly.

One of the rooms in the exhibition will particularly focus on  her relationship both professionally and personally with Alfred Stieglitz: photographer, modern art promoter and O’Keeffe’s husband. Although their relationship was conflictive at times, each supported the other’s work and used it to help influence their own style.

Although O’Keeffe’s most familiar work is her representations and abstractions of flowers, this retrospective will go beyond that exploring her landscape paintings and a selection of skull paintings, that reveal her deep fascination with nature and travel.

From details given at today’s conference, there does seem to be a deeply personal approach about the exhibition that will give visitors a greater understanding of O’Keeffe’s work from a more personal point of view.

The display will feature a wide range of her work, but it was also revealed today that the exhibition will feature the iconic Jimson Weed, White Flower No 1 (1932), which will be displayed outside the US for the first time since being acquired by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas in 2014. It was the most expensive painting sold at auction by a female artist, selling for $44million.

Achim Borchardt-Hume, Director of Exhibitions at Tate Modern said; “The exhibition offers a rare opportunity for European audiences to view O’Keeffe’s work in such depth and what better moment to celebrate her influential career than 100 years after her debut and coinciding with the opening of the new Tate Modern.”

Georgia O’Keeffe will be on display at Tate Modern from the 6th July until the 30th October 2016. 


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