Following a string of controversial thefts, the British Museum has announced ambitious plans to digitize its collection. “Following the discovery that objects have been stolen from the collection, we have taken steps to improve security and are now confident that a theft of this kind can never happen again,” says interim director Mark Jones. “It is my belief that the single most important response to the thefts is to increase access, because the better a collection is known – and the more it is used – the sooner any absences are noticed.”
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Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico
New York, NY; Taos, New Mexico
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Arts Student League, New York
O’Keeffe is one of the most famous American artists of the twentieth century. After training at New York’s Art Students League under the direction of William Merritt Chase, she began to attract the attention of the art world. Her 1908 “Dead Rabbit with Copper Pot” won her the William Merritt Chase Still-life prize and caught the eye of Pictorialist Alfred Stieglitz, owner of the renowned gallery 291.
After a brief vacation from the art world in 1912, when she moved to Texas to teach though her respite from creating art was short-lived. Soon, she returned to New York City, where she started a relationship with Stieglitz and began creating many of her most famous and feminine works, specifically her floral paintings. Stieglitz had a summer home in Lake George and she travelled there regularly, creating her Lake George series.
In 1924, she and Stieglitz were married. By the end the decade, however, internal unrest became evident in her work. Going against Stieglitz’s wishes to continue to portray feminine subjects, she created a series of paintings that captured New York’s larger buildings, like the Shelton, where she and Stieglitz lived as well as others, like the “Radiator Bldg–Night”. These paintings contained rigid shapes and dark palettes, the antithesis of her floral creations, reflecting, what many would argue, her confinement within the city.
In 1929, O’Keeffe made her first trip to New Mexico; for the next 20 years, she would spend much time there, specifically in the small town of Taos. There, she explored numerous paintings of skulls, sunsets and the Ranchos Church. It was also in Taos that she was introduced to Ansel Adams and Mabel Dodge Luhan, at whose home she often stayed before buying herself a home on the infamous Ghost Ranch.
After Stieglitz’s death in 1946, she traveled temporarily to New York before moving to New Mexico permanently in 1949. The profundity of her production had started to wane in the 1950s, though she created famous works like the 1958 “Ladder to the Moon” and later, “Above the clouds I,” shifting her focus, critics believe, towards death and the afterlife. During this period, she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
In 1970, the Whitney Museum of American Art exhibited the Georgia O’Keeffe Retrospective Exhibition, the first major retrospective of her work in nearly 25 years. In the subsequent decade, her eye sight would decline and she completed her final work in oil paints in 1972, turning her focus to working with clay, as well as completing her book, “Georgia O’Keeffe,” published in 1976. Still, she painted in watercolor and also worked in graphite until 1984, two years prior to her death at the age of 98.
Today, much of her work can be viewed at Santa Fe’s Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, which opened in 1997 to aid the artist’s legacy.