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Albuquerque Museum Presents O’Keeffe and Moore — City of Albuquerque


Albuquerque Museum Presents O’Keeffe and Moore

An exhibition featuring iconic paintings and sculptures by Georgia O’Keeffe and Henry Moore.
September 12, 2023

The Albuquerque Museum presents O’Keeffe and Moore on view at the museum September 30 - December 31, 2023. This unique exhibition, which opened at the San Diego Museum of Art before traveling to Albuquerque, offers visitors the opportunity to get a glimpse of each artist’s studio, and explore how both O’Keeffe and Moore were inspired by the landscape and objects they found within it.

The O’Keeffe and Moore exhibit compares the work of two iconic modernists: American painter Georgia O’Keeffe and British sculptor Henry Moore. These artists worked on different continents, yet their careers and contributions to the artistic development of the 20th Century reveal many parallels.

While Georgia O’Keeffe was holding up a small pelvic bone of a gray fox against the New Mexico sky, framing the landscape and imagining the curve of the bone on a vast scale, Henry Moore, eleven years her junior and halfway around the world, was also holding up small bones, maquettes (model or sketch), and other objects against the sky, imagining them any size and peering through their apertures to the open landscape and sheep fields of Hertfordshire. The two artists each pioneered and shared their own coherent vision and approach to Modernism. While other Modernist artists also used natural forms as a pathway to abstraction, O’Keeffe and Moore centered their art on this fundamental aspect and amassed great collections over their lifetimes of animal skulls and bones, gnarled tree roots and twisted driftwood, smooth and hollowed river and flint stones, internal coils of seashells and interlocking pebbles.

This exhibition unites the work of these artists for the first time and re-creates their studios in the Museum with their original contents of found objects, tools, and furnishings. Visitors will be able to explore their working practices and see how these humble objects inspired some of their most important artistic creations.

“The Albuquerque Museum is honored to showcase these prolific artists, especially O’Keeffe whose work is loved by so many New Mexicans,” said Andrew Connors, Albuquerque Museum director. “The similarities between these two very different artists are richly and unexpectedly showcased through the selection of iconic paintings, sculptures, and drawings on view. This is a powerful opportunity for all art lovers to see these two artists in a very different way.”

More than 100 works of art trace their artistic development, exploring Surrealist concepts such as the pairing of objects and metamorphosis, as well as their investigations of bones, stones, internal/external forms of flowers and seashells, and landscape. Before settling permanently in New Mexico, O’Keeffe collected animal skulls she found during visits to the Southwest, bringing them back with her to New York to study and paint. Meanwhile, Moore referred to his maquette studio as his “library of natural forms” and drew from its vast resources daily, fusing the shapes of the human figure in plaster and terra cotta with those of the natural world, and questioning our relationship with the environment.

He mused, “The value of certain types of modern sculpture may be that it opens people’s eyes to nature, that they pick up things which they wouldn’t look at otherwise; and they look at things with a new eye.”

The sentiment is echoed in the reminiscences of O’Keeffe: “I have picked flowers where I found them. I have picked up seashells and rocks and pieces of wood where there were seashells and rocks and pieces of wood that I liked…I have used these things to say what is to me the wideness and wonder of the world as I live in it.”

In 1986, both Modernist icons passed away and with their passing came the end of a watershed artistic era. In 1946 the Museum of Modern Art in New York organized a Henry Moore retrospective. O’Keeffe had her retrospective there, MoMA’s first of a woman artist, only a few months earlier.

Above all, the common ground between these two artists can be found in the inspiration each took from nature and their enduring association with the landscapes that were an essential part of their life’s work. Moore relocated from London to the verdant sheep fields of Hertfordshire during World War II in 1940, while O’Keeffe left the bustle of New York to settle permanently in New Mexico in 1949, becoming inextricably linked to the striking desert terrain. This exhibition has been assembled from national and international collections, including masterpieces from the intimate to the monumental in scale, and in materials ranging from paintings to bronze, as well as travertine, lead, elmwood, lignum vitae, and even stalactite.

Curated by Anita Feldman, The San Diego Museum of Art’s deputy director for Curatorial Affairs and Education, the exhibition is accompanied by a beautifully illustrated catalog with contributions from leading international scholars. From Albuquerque, the exhibition will travel to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in Canada.

O’Keeffe and Moore is organized by the San Diego Museum of Art in collaboration with Albuquerque Museum, Henry Moore Foundation, and Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.