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Exhibition presents afresh look at Georgia O'Keeffe's art, fashion and style
Eight Wrap Dresses. Left to right: Black cotton, c. 1960s–70s; White cotton, Carol Sarkisian, c. 1970s; Blue-gray cotton, c. 1960s; Pink cotton, Neiman Marcus, c. late 1950s; Blue cotton, Neiman Marcus, c. late 1950s; Brown cotton, Sidran, Inc., c. late 1950s; Green synthetic velvet, Carol Sarkisian, c. 1970s; Black cotton, c. 1960s– 70s. Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, 2000.03.0602, 2000.03.0410, 2000.03.0411, 2000.03.0398, 2000.03.0394, 2000.03.0419, 2000.03.0357, and 2000.03.0601. Photo © Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.

RENO, NEV.- This July, the Nevada Museum of Art will offer a fresh look at the life, art, and style of renowned modernist artist Georgia O’Keeffe. Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern expands the common understanding of this icon in the context of her self-crafted public persona—including her clothing and the way she posed for the camera. The exhibition focuses on O’Keeffe’s wardrobe, shown for the first time alongside key paintings and photographs that confirm and explore her determination to control how the world understood her identity and artistic values. Organized by the Brooklyn Museum, Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern will be on view at the Nevada Museum of Art in downtown Reno, Nevada, July 20 through October 20, 2019. The Nevada Museum of Art is the only venue in the western United States to host the exhibition.

Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern opens with an introduction that demonstrates how O’Keeffe began to craft her signature clothing style as a high school student, dispensing with the bows and frills worn by young women at the time. The exhibition continues in four parts. The first is devoted to New York in the 1920s and ’30s when she lived with Alfred Stieglitz and made many of her own clothes. It also examines Stieglitz’s multi-year, serial portrait project, which ultimately helped her to become one of the most photographed American artists in history and contributed to her understanding of photography’s power to shape her public image.

Her years in New Mexico comprise the second section, in which the desert landscape—surrounded by color in the yellows, pinks, and reds of rocks and cliffs, and the blue sky—influenced her painting and dress palette. A small third section explores the influence and importance of Asian aesthetics in her personal style. The final section displays images made after Stieglitz’s era by photographers who came to visit her in the Southwest.

O’Keeffe suffered from macular degeneration. Due to her failing eyesight, she painted her last unassisted oil painting in 1972. But O’Keeffe’s will to create did not diminish. In 1977, at the age of ninety, she stated, “I can see what I want to paint. The thing that makes you want to create is still there.” Late in life and almost blind, she had a handful of assistants that enabled her to again create art. In these works she returned to favorite visual motifs from her memory and vivid imagination. She later passed away at the age of 98 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on March 6, 1986, but her style and artwork continue to live on.

To enhance this summer’s O’Keeffe experience, the Nevada Museum of Art has staged an additional exhibition to complement Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern. On view May 25 through September 22, Georgia O’Keeffe: The Faraway Nearby, From the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico transports visitors to the artist’s outdoor lifestyle in the American Southwest. The beauty and elegance of Georgia O’Keeffe’s New Mexico paintings were prompted by the intimacy of her experience with the land. The artist made repeated camping trips to draw and paint at extraordinary sites across this region. This exhibition presents a selection of fifty objects of camping gear belonging to O’Keeffe— everything from her flashlight to her Stanley thermos—that made her trips to remote locations possible.

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