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Details & Cataloguing

American Art

|
New York

Georgia O'Keeffe
1887 - 1986
TURKEY FEATHERS AND INDIAN POT (TURKEY FEATHERS–INDIAN POT)

Provenance

Doris Bry, New York
Terry Dintenfass Gallery, New York
Private collection, Boca Raton, Florida, 1968
Spanierman Gallery, New York, circa 2000
Private collection, Massachusetts
Questroyal Fine Art, New York, 2012
Acquired by the present owner from the above, 2012

Exhibited

New York, An American Place, Georgia O'Keeffe: Exhibition of Recent Paintings, 1941, February-March 1942, no. 8 (as Turkey Feathers–Indian Pot)
Chicago, Illinois, The Art Institute of Chicago, Georgia O'Keeffe, January-February 1943, no. 61, p. 45
New York, Terry Dintenfass Gallery, Stieglitz: A Memoir/Biography, December 1982-January 1983 (as Black Pot and Turkey Feathers)
Roslyn, New York, Nassau County Museum of Art, Intimates and Confidants in Art: Husbands, Wives, Lovers and Friends, February-May 1993
Shelburne, Vermont, Shelburne Museum, Simple Beauty: Paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe, June-October 2006

Literature

Barbara Buhler Lynes, Georgia O'Keeffe: Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven, Connecticut, 1999, vol. II, no. 1014, p. 638, illustrated
Tranquil America: A Century of Painting, 1840–1940, New York, Spanierman Gallery, 2001, no. 80
Important American Paintings: Boundless, New York, Questroyal Fine Art, Fall 2012, pl. 50, illustrated
Barbara Buhler Lynes and Carolyn Kastner, Georgia O'Keeffe in New Mexico: Architecture, Katsinam, and the Land, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2012, illustrated fig. 9, p. 18 (as dated 1942)

Catalogue Note

Born on a farm in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, Georgia O’Keeffe always felt that her identity was rooted in the natural world. The expansiveness and stark simplicity of the desert landscape and architecture of New Mexico strongly appealed to her creative sensibilities, and her visits proved transformative both personally and artistically. O’Keeffe traveled to New Mexico annually beginning in 1929 and would continue to investigate the imagery of the Southwest for the remainder of her life, returning almost every summer until 1949 when she made the town of Abiquiu her permanent home.

O'Keeffe's oeuvre prominently displays her preoccupation with nature, focusing on series of enlarged and abstracted elements including flowers, leaves, bones, shells and feathers.  In Turkey Feathers and Indian Pot O’Keeffe presents a still life subject from her unique perspective, tilting the picture plane and framing the elements within adobe walls. “Typically, the artistic depiction of objects, the genre known as still life, is held to be a faithful representation of things in the real world” writes Elizabeth Hutton Turner. “But O’Keeffe claimed few distinctions between abstraction and representation in her work.  By her own account, her aesthetic was informed by her ability to select, not to describe: ‘Nothing is less real than realism,’ she explained.  ‘It is only by selection, by elimination, by emphasis that we get at the real meaning of things’” (Georgia O’Keeffe: The Poetry of Things, Washington, D.C., 1999, p. 1).

The composition of Turkey Feathers and Indian Pot is simplified to a bulbous black pot set against an adobe backdrop, with the plumed turkey feathers adding a natural element. O’Keeffe closely crops the picture plane, eliminating the foreground entirely and elevating the pot and feathers in the center of the composition. This pictorial structure, with the angled walls creating pools of light and shadow, is reminiscent of the photographs of Alfred Stieglitz and Paul Strand, and O’Keeffe’s disregard for traditional scale and spatial depth contributes to a modern sense of abstraction. “It is surprising to me to see how many people separate the objective from the abstract,” she once explained of her intent. “Objective painting is not good painting unless it is good in the abstract sense. A hill or tree cannot make a good painting just because it is a hill or a tree. It is lines and colors put together so that they say something. For me that is the very basis of painting. The abstraction is often the most definite form for the intangible thing in myself that I can only clarify” (quoted in Barbara Haskell, Georgia O’Keeffe: Abstraction, New York, 2009, p. 166).

O’Keeffe was particular about the presentation of her paintings and often set them in minimal metal frames, as with the current painting. She clearly chose the color of this frame to form a seamless border with the adobe background; enhancing her refined imagery and the visual power of the painting. The frame simply defines the edges of the work, while explicitly avoiding the addition of another visual element to the picture.
 

American Art

|
New York