When I first heard
about this showing of O’Keeffe and Moore
I was skeptical. One from the USA,
one from the UK, one mainly a painter, the other a sculptor. The only thing
they seemed to have in common was that they passed away in 1986. I never met Georgia
O’Keeffe but she seems like a reclusive feminist tucked away in New Mexico. I
had the fun of having tea with Henry Moore during my stint as a gallerist in
London in the early 70’s. He was a small man, not humble, but generous in
offering me my choice of drawings for a modern master show I was curating.
I also just read an
article about an exhibition in New York about the early works on paper by O’Keeffe,
praising this work over her large oils on canvas. I am a huge fan of drawings
and I have always preferred Henry Moore’s intimate drawings over his large
sculptures. So, I thought I could bring some insight into this showing. But I was not prepared to be blown away the moment
I walked into the show, which got better and better with each room.
A stunning early
watercolor by O’Keeffe set the tone for this show. It literally glows off the
page (above). It is juxtaposed next to a detailed drawing that Moore created on a scrape of newspaper (below). Both are works
on paper and both quite different although both are figurative. The direct
feeling of the artist hand is what always appeals to me in these small works.
The show includes lots
and lots of art by both artists but there are definite pairings that show the
strong relationship between the works and that is what pulled me in. The
display is stunningly laid out and beautifully lit. There is an immense feeling
of space and elegance. As a bonus, each of their studios has been recreated.
Thanks to the curator, Anita Feldman, it achieves high
praise for giving us a new and fresh way to see both of these beloved artists
in the context of each other.
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