SANTA FE, NM.- The Georgia OKeeffe Museum
announced the opening of the first exhibition of 2014, Georgia OKeeffe and Ansel Adams: The Hawaii Pictures. Organized by Theresa Papanikolas, Honolulu Museum of Arts curator for European and American Art, the exhibition brings together for the first time works inspired by the natural beauty of Hawaii as uniquely experienced by each artist. The show runs from February 7, 2014 through September 14, 2014.
Georgia OKeeffe and Ansel Adams are two of Americas most influential modernists, each celebrated for their interpretations of particular places -‐ OKeeffe, the American Southwest and Adams, Yosemite National Park; both are revered for their ability to capture and translate their experience of natural beauty onto paper for their audience. The two met in 1929 in Taos, New Mexico and developed a lifelong friendship through a mutual admiration and devotion to the natural world.
The exhibition includes works from OKeeffes trip to Honolulu and neighboring islands in 1939, commissioned by The Hawaiian Pineapple Company (now the Dole Company). On her two-‐ month stay she visited Hawaiis vast array of natural wonders, isolating single forms and creating modern, abstracted compositions based on observation of the natural world. OKeeffe went beyond painting the popular stereotypical Hawaii, approaching each piece with an original perspective drawn from her well-‐established practice of landscape and still-‐life painting.
OKeeffe was an experienced colorist; she also deployed a dramatic palette to intensify the exotic beauty of specific landscapes and flowers she encountered in the islands, said Carolyn Kastner, Curator of the Georgia OKeeffe Museum. OKeeffe unveils the subject in her own authentic and personal response, exposing the inescapable beauty of the form itself. Each piece is sophisticated in palette, it reflects and reinforces her characteristically modernist dissection of landscape and botanical life.
Ansel Adams photographs of Hawaii were also commissioned, first in 1948 for the Department of the Interior, and in 1957 for a commemorative publication for Bishop National Bank of Hawaii (currently First Hawaiian Bank). Like OKeeffe, Adams sought to reveal a nontraditional view of the islands, aiming to capture a sense of place with his unique style and showing the viewer the connection between the land and its inhabitants. In a letter written by Adams in 1938 he explains, If I have any niche at all in the photographic presentation of America, I think it would be chiefly to show the land and the sky as the settings for human activity. The exhibition showcases Adams abilities as a modern photographer to offer penetrating and revelatory insight about his subjects with absolute technical mastery of the photographic process.
The exhibition builds on the concept of the 2008 exhibition Georgia OKeeffe and Ansel Adams: Natural Affinities to analyze how each artist responded to an unfamiliar tropical environment, despite an initial hesitation and the predominance of tourist imagery, said Kastner. As pointed out by exhibition organizer Theresa Papanikolas, curator of the Honolulu Museum of Art, neither artist followed the familiar clichés of moonlit seas, swaying coconut palms, and the ubiquitous profile of Diamond Head, which defined the islands in the popular visual culture of the time.