Contact us U.Va. Art MuseumUniversity of Virginia

Georgia O'Keeffe's Red Hills, Lake George is on view this fall at the U.Va. Art Museum. This important loan from The Phillips Collection continues the special relationship the University has developed with this Washington DC art institution. Academic programming related to this loan includes the exhibition Alfred Stieglitz, Gallery 291 and Georgia O'Keeffe: Nature, Art, and Abstraction curated by Elizabeth Hutton Turner's fall seminar on American modernism.

On exhibit are works by photographers Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Weston, Edward Steichen and Ansel Adams, painters Joseph Stella and O'Keeffe, prints by Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and Henrí Matisse—as well as examples of influences that inspired the modernists, including a mask from the Guro people of Africa's Ivory Coast and a Japanese temple bell from the Edo period.

“In the class we are looking at a slice of history and utilizing those practices to begin to create a new idea for a teaching museum.... We are constantly asking, 'What if ...'?' There are deep implications for learning by positioning and thinking about objects in space. These exhibits are not the final word, but the first word.” —Elizabeth Hutton Turner
 

October 22, 2010
Brittany A. Strupp

Gallery Response

American Modernism

Looking at the installation at the University of Virginia Art Museum I am struck by the multiplicity of media and subject matter. How does an analytical Cubist print relate to an African mask or an atmospheric photograph of a New York street? What about a brightly painted and undulating landscape is related to a crisp portrait of Steichen? Or, more startling still, why is there a giant wasp’s nest in the corner of the room? The relationship(s) between them is not immediately obvious and I must make a conscious effort to understand them. After a few minutes of careful observation, however, formal affinities visually linking each work becomes evident: the African mask finds a fellow in the face of Matisse’s nude; the geometry in Braque’s cubist print is echoed in Stieglitz’s The Steerage; and undulating lines are repeated in Weston’s athletic nude, O’Keeffe’s radiating landscape, and the powerful neck of Stella’s Ox. These formal affinities exist despite the variety of the works on display and can be traced to a single common element: Alfred Stieglitz. Each of the artists on display can be related to Stieglitz, whether they exhibited in one of his famous gallery spaces, befriended the dealer, or found inspiration in the dealer. Through Stieglitz, each of these artists became part of shared search for a modern American aesthetic. This exploration, however, was ongoing, constantly changing and adjusting over time. What the exhibition conveys to me, then, is the multiplicity and continuing evolution of American modern art. American artists searching for a distinctly American modern aesthetic explored numerous techniques and modes of expression, but ultimately these explorations did not result in one coherent “American” style. Instead, these explorations proved that American modern art goes beyond fixed principles and, while each of the artists is striving for the same ideal, the results are very different.

Post a comment

Posted in Exhibition | Gallery 291 | O'Keeffe | Stieglitz

October 20, 2010
Meaghan Kiernan

Gallery Response

American Modernism

Upon entering “Gallery 291″ in the U.Va. Art Museum, I am consumed by the moment of abstraction as communicated by the works hanging on the walls. The formal interplay of the photographs, prints, and paintings rhythmically guides my eye around the room. The angular lines of George Braque’s Fox drypoint visually brings out the horizontal levels, slanting rectangular shape of the oceanliner’s machinery, and the X of the man’s suspenders in Alfred Stieglitz’s The Steerage. And yet, the undulating white chains from this photograph allow my eye to flow to the works on the adjacent wall. The waving lines of this photograph are echoed in the underside of Joseph Stella’s The Ox‘s meticulously rendered neck. Georgia O’Keeffe’s rolling landscape, Red Hills, Lake George, continues this soft, rising and falling line over and down through Ansel Adam’s rock formations and into Edward Weston’s Nude (dancer). Before viewing this gallery, I had not appreciated Weston’s figurative photographs for their formal qualities. However, focusing on the dark lines carving out the dancer’s body in space, the interplay of light and shade as well as the shape of the forms seem to surpass the importance of the subject matter. The photograph—as seen in this gallery—becomes less a document of her kneeling and more of an abstract work of art. This display of early 20th century modernist works in various media highlight not only Stieglitz’s belief that modernism originated on this side of the Atlantic but more precisely his view of photography as a fine art and appreciation of it for its formal qualities leading to its consideration in terms of abstraction.

Post a comment

Posted in Exhibition | Gallery 291 | O'Keeffe | Stieglitz