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Reynolda House Museum of American Art presents 'Georgia O'Keeffe: Living Modern'
The exhibition is on view at Reynolda - its only southern venue - August 18-November 19.

WINSTON-SALEM, NC.- Reynolda House Museum of American Art will present Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern, a landmark exhibition organized by the Brooklyn Museum that examines the artist’s self-crafted persona through her art, her dress, and her progressive, independent lifestyle. More than 190 paintings, photographs, sculptures and personal objects will be on view August 18 – November 19, including jewelry, accessories, and garments from her wardrobe, some designed and made by the artist herself. The exhibition reveals the artist’s powerful ownership of her public and artistic identity and affirms that she embodied the same modern aesthetic in her self-fashioning as in her art. Reynolda House Museum of American Art is the only venue in the Southern U.S. for Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern.

The exhibition features numerous portraits of the artist—many of them now iconic—taken by eminent photographers, including Alfred Stieglitz, Ansel Adams, Cecil Beaton, Philippe Halsman, Yousuf Karsh, Todd Webb and Bruce Weber. The portraiture, spanning her time as a young artist in New York City to her years in northern New Mexico, illustrates the artist’s use of photographic sittings to construct her distinguished style. A highlight is Stieglitz’s 20-year portrait series of O’Keeffe, which, the exhibition notes, introduced her to the medium’s power to shape her image.

“The exhibition is an eye-opening look at this seminal artist,” says Phil Archer, Reynolda House’s coordinating curator for the exhibition. “Georgia O’Keeffe was as much a pioneer of American modernism as she was an innovator in what people today call ‘branding.’ O’Keeffe created an unwavering image of herself through her wardrobe, her homes and in the ways she posed for pictures.”

Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern follows O’Keeffe’s life from a young girl in Wisconsin to a pioneer of modernism and a style icon living on the New Mexico desert. Family photographs, yearbooks, and personal letters are early evidence that O’Keeffe dispensed with the bows and frills worn by young women and began to create her signature clothing style as a high school student. The exhibition then proceeds to her time in New York in the 1920s and ’30s, when she lived with Stieglitz and made many of her own clothes.

The artist’s New Mexico years, first as a summer artist and later as a permanent resident, span from 1929 to 1986. The exhibition demonstrates how the desert landscape—the yellows, pinks, and reds of rocks and cliffs, and the blue sky—inspired both her painting and dress palette. A selection of paintings, kimonos, and Hong Kong-tailored clothes also explores the influence and importance of Asian aesthetics in her iconic look.

Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern is the largest exhibition ever mounted at Reynolda House Museum of American Art. The show’s 190 objects, which include 38 of O’Keeffe’s works from all periods, extend from the Mary and Charlie Babcock Wing through the 64-room country manor house built by R. J. and Katharine Reynolds in 1917, which today serves as the setting for Reynolda House’s permanent collection.

Reynolda House’s unique art museum-within-a-residence enables it to present Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern with echoes of Alfred Stieglitz’s famed 291 gallery in New York, exhibiting artwork and personal objects in an intimate setting. In particular, private rooms on the second story of the house—once bedrooms of the Reynolds family—will showcase O’Keeffe’s modernist uniforms: the Black Suit and the Wrap Dress.

“O’Keeffe's clothes will look especially splendid in Reynolda House’s domestic-scaled spaces, as will her paintings, drawings, and sculptures in the company of the museum’s superb collection of American art,” says Wanda M. Corn, Robert and Ruth Halperin Professor Emerita in Art History at Stanford University, who curated the exhibition and wrote the influential and well-illustrated book that accompanies it. This is the first publication to study and showcase the artist’s dress along with her homes.

The idea for this exhibition arose when Corn learned that the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe owned dresses, coats, suits, casual wear and accessories that the artist left behind when she died in 1986. A majority of the clothing, representing 60 years of her life, comes from the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and the closets of O’Keeffe’s two New Mexican homes. The museum now owns both houses and their belongings.

“The Georgia O’Keeffe who emerged from my research was an artist not only in her studio but also in her homemaking and self-fashioning,” Corn said. She turned her research into an exhibition, curated for the Brooklyn Museum, where Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern opened on March 3, 2017, and continues through July 23, before it travels to Reynolda House Museum of American Art. Its final venue will be at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, December 16, 2017 to April 1, 2018.

Exhibition curator Wanda Corn will speak at Reynolda House on August 29.

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