Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams: The Hawaii Pictures
February 7 - September 14, 2014
This exhibition is the first to feature the artwork created in Hawaii by Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams. These two friends and American modernists are famously associated with the extraordinary places that inspired them; though both visited Hawaii at the height of their powers, the work they created there has received little attention. Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams: The Hawaii Pictures reveals how profoundly both artists were moved by their personal experiences in Hawaii. Further, the photographs and paintings included in the exhibition express the islands’ unique sense of place, at the same time they reveal the complex continuities with the whole of O’Keeffe and Adams’s respective oeuvres.
The exhibition will include fourteen paintings by O’Keeffe created during a 1939 trip to Honolulu and neighbor islands to create illustrations for print advertisements for the Hawaiian Pineapple Company (now the Dole Company). During her two month stay in Hawaii, she traversed Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii (The Big Island), visiting beaches, rainforests, and pineapple plantations, and painting the dramatic coastlines, volcanic terrain, traditional tools, and exotic flora. She painted dramatic landscapes of coastlines and waterfalls; but most extensively the island flowers: white bird of paradise, heliconia, crab’s claw ginger, and bella donna. These artworks reveal O’Keeffe’s deeply personal response to the inescapable natural beauty of the islands. The tropical blossoms will resonant with viewers who admire her large-scale flower paintings, but the seascapes and verdant valleys are an unusual subject for the artist better known for her desert landscapes. Yet, these disciplined compositions express her enduring fascination with the formal vocabulary of abstraction.
The exhibition will also include Ansel Adams’s photographs of Hawaii, likewise undertaken on commission, first in 1948 as part of a series on national parks for the Department of the Interior and in 1957 for a commemorative publication for Bishop National Bank of Hawaii (now First Hawaiian Bank). These extraordinary and often idiosyncratic works reveal how Adams, like O’Keeffe, sought a personal experience, beyond the prevailing stereotypes of Hawaii, to picture his individual response to the island’s natural beauty. Building upon the exhibition Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams: Natural Affinities, on view at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in 2008, this body of work reveals how Adams and O’Keeffe sought to unmask what lay beyond the beaches of Waikiki, to convey their profound and intimate connection to the land.
The exhibition was organized by Theresa Papanikolas, Curator of European and American art at the Honolulu Museum, where it will open on July 18, 2013 and be on view until January 12, 2014.
Georgia O’Keeffe: Abiquiu Views
February 7 - September 14, 2014
In 1945, Georgia O’Keeffe purchased a four acre site with an adobe hacienda style house built around a central patio, on a mesa in the village of Abiquiu. Constructed from local materials, the uninhabited house was a ruin returning to the earth, when she first saw it. O’Keeffe welcomed the opportunity to rebuild it and make it her own, suited to her artistic practice. O’Keeffe lived and worked in the house for the rest of her life, finding continuing inspiration in the architecture of the home and the views of the surrounding landscape. This exhibition brings together paintings inspired by her Abiquiu home, some seen for the first time in many decades. It also includes a reconstruction of the view from her studio, centered on a work table of her own design, arranged with her original art materials and tools.
O’Keeffe engaged Maria Chabot, to assist her with the restoration of the walled compound in Abiquiu. While the footprint of the structure was faithful to the original, Chabot reimagined new uses for the existing rooms. She mapped a plan for domestic spaces, a garden with fruit trees, the largest studio the artist ever had, and a plan to enlarge the windows toward the view of cottonwood trees to the north and the mesa east of the house.
Surrounded by a wall, the house looked inward to a patio, and did not offer the dramatic vistas of O’Keeffe’s first home at the Ghost Ranch. The only possibility for gaining a view of the surrounding landscape was beyond the walls of the compound. Chabot imagined a studio in a separate building at the edge of the mesa that had previously functioned as a stable and buggy house. It sheltered the largest interior space on the property and offered the only possibility for an extended view. Further, Chabot suggested opening the wall in O’Keeffe’s studio with a picture window, which allowed an endless view toward the Chama River Valley and the Jemez Mountains beyond. During the 1950s the overlook from her studio inspired O’Keeffe to create more than two dozen paintings of the cottonwood trees that grew along the river below. Ten of those paintings are included in this exhibition.
Though the studio window was an extravagant luxury in rural New Mexico, Chabot asked O’Keeffe if she would also like her corner bedroom to be “mostly glass.” With O’Keeffe’s consent, Chabot installed a modern picture window in the studio along with an expanse of glass at the corner of the adjoining bedroom. The view from the artist’s bed room window also stirred her imagination. In 1952, O’Keeffe began to visualize the winding road that cut through the landscape in a series of ever-more simplified compositions. Paintings and drawings of the mesa and road are also part of the exhibition.
The paintings that comprise this exhibition are emblematic of O’Keeffe’s endless fascination with the color and form of her surroundings in northern New Mexico; a landscape that inspired her art and the reconstruction of her home and studio in Abiquiu.
During the course of 2014, the gallery installations will change to reveal different views of the property, including images of her famous patio and the black door.