Phillips to offer rare painting by Georgia O'Keeffe

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Phillips to offer rare painting by Georgia O'Keeffe
Georgia O'Keeffe, Crab’s Claw Ginger Hawaii, 1939. Image courtesy of Phillips.

NEW YORK, NY.- Phillips announced the first highlight of the New York Evening Sale of 20th Century & Contemporary Art – Georgia O’Keeffe’s Crab’s Claw Ginger Hawaii, a seminal work from her Hawaii series with exceptional provenance. The sale on 17 November marks the first time the painting is coming to auction, having first been owned by The Dole Pineapple Company for 40 years, before being acquired by Thurston Twigg-Smith in 1987, a prominent, fifth-generation Hawaiian known for his philanthropy and contributions to the arts. Crab’s Claw Ginger Hawaii is the most significant of O’Keeffe’s Hawaii pictures to appear at auction in three decades and the first to be offered in a Phillips Evening Sale of 20th Century & Contemporary Art.

Elizabeth Goldberg, Senior International Specialist, American Art and Deputy Chairwoman, Americas, said, “Georgia O’Keeffe’s experience in Hawaii inspired some of the most fascinating and visually striking works in her oeuvre. Of the approximately twenty paintings O’Keeffe created during her time in Hawaii, fourteen are in museum collections. We are thrilled to offer Crab’s Claw Ginger Hawaii in our New York Evening sale, presenting collectors with the rare opportunity to acquire an important work by this iconic artist. With a storied provenance and a remarkable place in the art historical canon, we look forward to seeing strong international interest in this extraordinary painting.”

One of the most sought-after artists today, Georgia O’Keeffe stands as a singular figure in 20th century art history. O’Keeffe’s Crab’s Claw Ginger Hawaii represents a pivotal moment in the artist’s practice, when she embarked on a nine-week sojourn to Hawaii in 1939 on a commission to create images for print advertisements by the Hawaiian Pineapple Company, now famously named Dole. One of two works ultimately selected for the advertising campaign, Crab’s Claw Ginger Hawaii is one of the most iconic paintings among the approximately 20 oils she painted during her time there. Displaying the artist’s distinct visual language and striking employment of color, Crab’s Claw Ginger Hawaii perfectly captures O’Keeffe’s independent and adventurous spirit, and beautifully shows her continuous inspiration in the natural world.

The important history of the work is paired perfectly with its exceptional provenance, having remained in Dole’s corporate collection for four decades before joining the collection of its most recent owners, Sharon Twigg-Smith and her late husband, Thurston Twigg-Smith. A scion of early missionary settlers in Hawaii, Mr. Twigg-Smith was a larger than life figure whose legendary impact on the state of Hawaii was matched perhaps only by his genuine love for art and the community. After a decorated military career, including the storming of Normandy during World War II, he returned to his home state and propelled the Honolulu Advertiser into Hawaii's dominant
newspaper. A renowned philanthropist, Twigg coalesced his endeavors in
the arts with his business acumen and notably transformed The
Contemporary Museum, Honolulu from a corporate gallery into a public
museum, now known as the Honolulu Museum of Art Spalding House.
Among the many other institutions they supported are the Hawaii Theatre
Center, Historic Hawaii Foundation, and Yale University Art Gallery.

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