Crystal Bridges to showcase recently acquired O’Keeffe

BENTONVILLE, Ark. – Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art has recently acquired Georgia O’Keeffe’s Jimson Weed/ White Flower No. 1, (1932, oil on canvas), which will debut in a focused exhibition, “Georgia O’Keeffe: See What I See,” on March 28 in the museum’s north exhibition gallery.

Several O’Keeffe paintings already in the museum’s collection will also be featured in the exhibition, including Small Purple Hills (1934, oil on board), and Feather and Brown Leaf (1935, oil on canvas). Also on view is a rare sculpture by O’Keeffe, Abstraction (modeled in 1946, cast circa 1979-80; white-lacquered bronze), furthering opportunities to see different aspects of the artist’s career.

“We’re pleased to debut this iconic painting with our visitors, and know it will quickly become a favorite in our galleries. Jimson Weed is one of the most celebrated works from the more than 200 flower paintings O’Keeffe created in her lifetime,” said Crystal Bridges Executive Director Rod Bigelow.

In addition to the works in this focused exhibition, two other paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe are on view in the museum as part of the Alfred Stieglitz collection, thanks to a partnership forged with Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., Crystal Bridges co-owns the Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 101 works of art that O’Keeffe donated to Fisk in 1949 from the collection of her late husband, Alfred Stieglitz, a photographer, gallery owner and champion of American Modernists. O’Keeffe’s Radiator Building—Night New York (1927, oil on canvas) and Flying Backbone (1944, oil on canvas) are among the works in the Stieglitz Collection and add to O’Keeffe’s works currently exhibited.

“The close-up view and cropped composition of Jimson Weed and other flower paintings reflects the influence of photography on O’Keeffe’s vision,” said Crystal Bridges Curator Mindy Besaw. “She married photographer Alfred Stieglitz the same year she began painting flowers, and photography was an active part of the couple’s life together. Her use of photographic techniques and the scale of the painting directs the viewer to ‘truly see the flower.’ Jimson Weed embodies much of O’Keeffe’s artistic strategy, and this focused exhibition offers an opportunity to delve further into those concepts.”

“A flower is relatively small. Everyone has many associations with a flower – the idea of flowers. You put out your hand to touch the flower, lean forward to smell it, maybe touch it with your lips almost without thinking or give it to someone to please them. Still, in a way nobody sees a flower, really. It is so small we haven’t time. And to see it takes time like to have a friend takes time. If I could paint the flower exactly as I see it no one would see what I see because I would paint it small like the flower is small. So I said to myself, I’ll paint what I see, what the flower is to me but I’ll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking time to look at it.”

– Georgia O’Keeffe, About Myself, 1939

Since acquiring the work, Crystal Bridges has begun discussions with the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which previously owned the painting, regarding collaborative efforts that would further enhance access to the study of O’Keeffe’s work.

“I am excited about the collaborative discussions we are having with Crystal Bridges to jointly strengthen our ability to represent American art through the breadth of O’Keeffe’s creative achievements.” said Robert A. Kret, director of the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. “We couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome.”