Modernism Made in New Mexico

This Friday, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum will be opening an exciting new exhibition, titled Modernism Made in New Mexico, which will juxtapose Miss O’Keeffe’s works from New Mexico with those of her Modernist contemporaries who also worked in the state.  Miss O’Keeffe was among the most prolific in drawing inspiration from the landscape, material culture, and architecture of New Mexico, it is clear that the state’s aesthetic features drew, and continue to draw, artists from around the country.

The array of artists highlighted in the show spans multiple movements from the first half of the twentieth century.  Included are paintings by John Sloan and George Bellows that echo the Ashcan-style realism they were known for in the first decade of the century, while they also boast new, more modern elements the artists introduced into their work as a result of being inspired by the New Mexican landscape.  Also to be displayed are more aggressively modern and abstract works by artists like Marsden Hartley, Andrew Dasburg, and Stuart Davis.  The exhibition even boasts multiple paintings by Edward Hopper, who briefly journeyed far from the emerald coastlines of New England to work in the high desert of the Southwest.

Modernism Made in New Mexico includes works from Modernists whose artistic styles and interests were far from identical, yet they all were captivated by some seemingly intangible quality of New Mexico that provided a profound form of inspiration.  This ideal is not limited to the physical landscape of the state, as many of the works in the exhibition prominently feature New Mexican cultural objects and architecture as subjects, as well.

I am personally most interested in the exhibition’s examination of the frequent use of New Mexico as a subject for Modernist painters and its consequent perception as a creative hub for the American Modernists of the twentieth century.  I believe that the show will illuminate many facets of the ethereal energy of the region that enticed so many artists, and this examination will be even further enriched by the inclusion of Miss O’Keeffe’s work that resulted from her total embrace of New Mexico as her home.  While many of the other artists mentioned merely visited New Mexico to find inspiration, Miss O’Keeffe truly made it her own, and a comparison of her work as a permanent resident of the state with that of these notable, “visiting” Modernists will provide excellent insight into the impact of New Mexico on the work of some of the most renowned figures of Modern American art.

Modernism Made in New Mexico opens this Friday, January 30th, 2015 and will remain at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe through April 30th.  A far more in-depth preview of the exhibition can be found on the Museum’s “Upcoming Exhibitions” page, on our website, here:

Patrick Gora, Curatorial Intern

Feature Photo: Georgia O’Keeffe, From the River-Pale, 1959, oil on canvas. To be featured in the upcoming exhibition. 

Image Copyright Georgia O’Keeffe Museum