This July through October, the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, Nevada 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 said, “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.
Rounding out the season of O’Keeffe, the Nevada Museum of Art will offer a host of public programs:
Members’ Only Preview, Thursday, July 18 | 6 – 9 PM | FREE for Museum Members
Embrace O’Keeffe’s remarkable sense of personal style during an evening planned only for Nevada Museum of Art members. Members enjoy free admission and exclusive access to the critically-acclaimed Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern before it opens to the public. Attendees will enjoy members-only access to the exhibition, engagement with gallery hosts who will answer questions about the exhibition, and music by Milton Merlos, Flamenco guitarist. Southwest style tapas and drinks will be available for purchase at chez louie. Members are encouraged to express their “O’Keeffe style” by wearing white, red or black. Members may bring a guest as a benefit of membership. If people are interested in becoming a Member to take advantage of this exclusive preview, they can join online today at https://www.nevadaart.org/give/membership/.
Dressing for the Photographer: Georgia O’Keeffe and Her Clothes | Saturday, July 20 | 11 am | $15 / $10 Members
Join art historian and Living Modern curator Wanda M. Corn as she explores the ways O’Keeffe used her distinctive style to shape her artistic identity, one that still dominates the American imagination today. Book signing to follow. Part of the Debra and Dennis Scholl Distinguished Speaker Series.
The American Look: Georgia O’Keeffe and the Fashion of Her Time | Friday, August 9 | noon | $10 / FREE for Members
Melissa Leventon is a specialist in European and American fashion and textiles. Through this lens, she will ask attendees to consider how the elements and sources of O’Keeffe’s signature wardrobe participate within the larger story of American fashion.
Georgia O’Keeffe: The Candid Camera | Thursday, August 29 | 6 pm | $12 / $8 Members
Dr. Ariel Plotek, Senior Director of Collections and Interpretation at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, will lend insight into the multiple ways O’Keeffe crafted her public persona through photography, from her relationship with Alfred Stieglitz to friends like Ansel Adams.
Georgia O’Keeffe’s Sky | Friday, September 6 | noon | $10 / FREE for Members
Dr. Brett M. Van Hoesen, Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Nevada, Reno, will explore the representation of the southwest sky in O’Keeffe’s paintings and fashion as well as in photographs of the renowned artist.
Kellee Morgado on Consumption and Waste in the Fashion Industry | Friday, September 20 | noon | $10 / FREE for Members
O’Keeffe’s signature style of dress embodies modernism through form, function and sustainability, an inspiration for Morgado’s “SEAM” project. Join her as she discusses these parallels through an interdisciplinary lens.
In addition to these public programs, the E.L. Cord Museum School will offer several themed classes taught by renowned visiting and local artists, from inspired recycled fashion to harvesting natural dyes in the desert. To view the complete offerings and to register, click here.
Throughout the run of the exhibition, the Museum Shop will offer O’Keeffe themed merchandise and books, including the 320-page Living Modern authored by Wanda M. Corn. Published by Prestel, the publication is the winner of the 2018 Dedalus Foundation exhibition catalogue award.
Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern was made possible by the generosity of sponsors, including major sponsors Nancy and Harvey Fennell of Dickson Realty.