GEORGIA O'KEEFFE | ABSTRACTION
1887 - 1986
inscribed G.OK and numbered 3/10 (beneath the base)
height: 10 inches (25.4 cm)
Modeled in 1946; cast in 1979-80.
The surface is slightly dirty and there appear to be a few scattered scuffs and scratches.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.
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By descent to the present owner
Jan Garden Castro, The Art & Life of Georgia O'Keeffe, New York, 1985, pp. 138, 177, illustration of the larger version
The Seibu Museum of Art, Catalogue of Georgia O'Keeffe Exhibition in Japan, Tokyo, Japan, 1988, p. 77, illustration of the larger version
Jennifer Saville, Georgia O'Keeffe: Paintings of Hawai'i, Honolulu, Hawaii, 1990, p. 43, illustration of the larger version fig. 17
Christine Taylor, O'Keeffe at Abiquiu, New York, 1995, cover illustration, illustration of another example p. 62
Peter H. Hassrick, ed., The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, New York, 1997, n.p., illustration of the larger version pl. 86
Sharyn Rohlfsen Udall, O'Keeffe and Texas, New York, 1998, p. 89, illustration of the larger version
Barbara Buhler Lynes, Georgia O'Keeffe: Catalogue Raisonné, vol. II, New Haven, Connecticut, 1999, no. 1126, p. 710, illustration of another example
Elizabeth Hutton Turner, Georgia O'Keeffe: The Poetry of Things, Washington, D.C., 1999, p. 120, 121, illustration of other examples fig. 83
Barbara Haskell, ed., Georgia O'Keeffe: Abstraction, New Haven, Connecticut, 2001, frontispiece illustration, illustrations of other examples p. 144
Barbara Buhler Lynes and Russell Bowman, O'Keeffe's O'Keeffes: The Artist's Collection, New York, 2001, pp. 175, 182, illustration of another example pl. 60
Joseph S. Czestochowski, ed., Georgia O'Keeffe: Visions of the Sublime, Memphis, Tennessee, 2004, p. 152, illustration of another example
Barbara Buhler Lynes, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum Collections, New York, 2007, p. 68
Jonathan Stuhlman and Barbara Buhler Lynes, Georgia O'Keeffe: Circling Around Abstraction, Manchester, Vermont, 2007, p. 33, pl. 40, 41, illustrations of other examples
Barbara Haskell, ed., Georgia O'Keeffe: Abstraction, New York, 2009, pp. 144, 173, illustration of another example pl. 125
Karen Moss, Illumination: The Paintings of Georgia O'Keeffe, Agnes Pelton, Agnes Martin, and Florence Miller Pierce, London, 2009, p. 112, illustration of another example fig. 64
Nancy Hopkins Reily, Georgia O'Keeffe, A Private Friendship: Walking the Abiquiu and Ghost Ranch Land, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2011, p. 94
Wanda M. Corn, Georgia O'Keeffe: Living Modern, New York, 2017, p. 203, illustration of the larger version fig. 218
Abstraction is a cast of one example of only three sculptural motifs that Georgia O’Keeffe produced during her seven-decade career. As in her paintings and drawings, for which she is primarily known, O’Keeffe’s sculpture demonstrates her interest in organic forms and the natural world. Abstraction masterfully exemplifies the deeply personal synthesis of realism and abstraction that pervades the entirety of her celebrated oeuvre.
This form represents O’Keeffe’s second attempt at sculpture and was first modeled in clay in 1946, likely inspired by her friendship with the sculptor Mary Callery who is best known for her sinuous bronzes of acrobats and dancers. In a letter dated March 4, 1946, O’Keeffe noted: “All day I was at Mary Callery’s working on my sculpture” (as quoted in Barbara Buhler Lynes, Georgia O'Keeffe: Catalogue Raisonné, vol. II, New Haven, Connecticut, 1999, p. 710). She did not cast the form in bronze until 1979-80, when she produced small editions using a variety of materials such as bronze and cast aluminum in three sizes: 10 inches, 36 inches, and 118 inches. The present work is from an edition of ten.
The spiral form appears throughout O’Keeffe’s body of work, beginning as early as 1916 in her watercolor Blue I. She returned to the shape time and time again, depicting it both realistically and abstractly in a range of media. The curvilinear lines and powerful, simplified shape reflect her interpretation of the natural world. Of Abstraction, the curator Jonathan Stuhlman writes: “[It] seems to take inspiration as much from her early whirlpool forms as from the voids of her later pelvis paintings. Its spiraling form, sometimes thought to have been inspired by the curling tendrils of jimson weed, connects three decades of O’Keeffe’s artistic innovation, pulling viewers’ eyes hypnotically toward its center and encouraging them to look both through it and at it simultaneously” (Georgia O’Keeffe: Circling Around Abstraction, Manchester, Vermont, 2007, p. 33).
The organic form and stark white color of Abstraction is reminiscent of O’Keeffe’s bone paintings. She developed a fascination with animal bones during her first trip to New Mexico in 1929, when she began to collect these weathered and sun-bleached objects as symbols of the desert. The stark simplicity of the desert landscape appealed strongly to her artistic sensibilities and she was always enamored by the various forms, textures and colors of natural objects. The smooth, sinuous forms of the bones evoked many qualities of the desert landscape and were a powerful source of inspiration for the artist throughout the duration of her career. She wrote in 1939, “I brought home the bleached bones as my symbol of the desert. To me they are as beautiful as anything I know. To me they are strangely more living than animals walking around… The bones seem to cut sharply to the center of something that is keenly alive on the desert even tho’ it is vast and empty and untouchable – and knows no kindness with all its beauty (as quoted in Lloyd Goodrich, Georgia O’Keeffe, New York, 1970, p. 23).