GEORGIA O'KEEFFE Calla Lillies on Red

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GEORGIA O'KEEFFE
Calla Lillies on Red
Signed G. O'Keeffe and dated 1928 (on the stretcher); also signed Georgia O'Keeffe and initialed OK, titled White Calla with Green Leaf + Red Background, and dated (on the backing board)
Oil on canvas
32 by 17 inches (81.6 by 43.5 cm)

PROVENANCE
Anita O’Keeffe Young, Newport
The artist, 1965 (acquired from the above)
Estate of the artist, 1986
Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe, 1987 (acquired from the above)
Anne Windfohr Marion, Fort Worth, 1987 (acquired from the above)
Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Phoenix, 1966 (bequest from the above)
Sold: Sotheby's New York, November 14, 2018, lot 15
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

EXHIBITED
New York, The Intimate Gallery, Georgia O’Keeffe: Paintings, 1928, 1929
New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Paintings by Nineteen Living Americans, 1929-30, no. 77
New York, The Downtown Gallery, The O’Keeffe Portfolio: Just Issued by The Knight Publications, Inc., Shown with Six of the Original Paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe, 1937
Moscow, Art in Embassies, 1988-90
Santa Fe, New Mexico, Gerald Peters Gallery; New York, Gerald Peters Gallery and Dallas, Gerald Peters Gallery, Georgia O’Keeffe, 1990-91, illustrated no. 5
Santa Fe, New Mexico, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico: An Expanding Collection, 1998-99
Santa Fe, New Mexico, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum; Memphis, Tennessee, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and Williamsburg, Virginia, College of William and Mary, Georgia O'Keeffe and the Calla Lily in American Art, 1860-1940, 2002-03, no. 37, illustrated p. 103
London, Tate Modern; Vienna, Bank Austria Kunstforum Wien and Toronto, Art Gallery of Ontario, Georgia O'Keeffe, 2016-17, no. 106, illustrated p. 117

LITERATURE
B. Buhler Lynes, Georgia O'Keeffe: Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven, 1999, vol. I, no. 628, illustrated p. 369
B. Buhler Lynes, O'Keeffe's O'Keeffes: The Artist's Collection, New York, 2001, p. 173
H. Drohojowska-Philp, Full Bloom: The Art and Life of Georgia O'Keeffe, New York, 2004, p. 284

CATALOGUE NOTE
Calla Lilies on Red is a sensuous study of color and form and a magnificent example of Georgia O’Keeffe’s inimitable aesthetic. The flower paintings that O’Keeffe produced between 1918 and 1932 captured the attention of the New York art world, garnered her acclaim and incited endless public and critical speculation as to their meaning. Though she denied their validity, Freudian interpretations were particularly rampant for rapturous compositions such as the present work and “the search for sexual symbols in her paintings [was] a favorite pastime for many in the 1920s.” (Charles C. Eldredge, Georgia O’Keeffe, New York, 1991, p. 81) Of the various flowers that she painted—irises, poppies, sweet peas etc.—it was arguably in the calla lily that O’Keeffe found her ideal motif, one that provided the perfect synthesis of subject and form that now defines her most celebrated work. Many modernists were visually exploring the calla lily during this time including Marsden Hartley, Salvador Dalí and Charles Demuth. Intrigued by their infatuation with the exotic blossom, O’Keeffe decided “to see if I could understand what it was all about.” (Charles C. Eldredge, Ibid., p. 83) In typical fashion, she outpaced all the men and by the end of the 1920s the calla had become her signature subject—an association that was further strengthened by the April 1928 revelation that an anonymous collector had paid an astonishing $25,000 for six of her small callas, the record price for any living artist at the time. So close was the popular association between O’Keeffe and the waxy white blossom that in 1929, the year after Calla Lilies on Red was painted, Miguel Covarrubias published a drawing of O’Keeffe in the New Yorker titled Our Lady of the Lily. Covarrubias’s elongated rendering of O’Keeffe’s form mimicked the elegant curves of the calla lily she is depicted holding, creating the impression of the flower as an extension of the artist herself.

For all enquires, please contact David.Schrader@sothebys.com

Currently Available for Private Sale

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