Georgia O’Keeffe, Black Iris VI, 1936. Oil on canvas, 36 x 24 in. Paul G. Allen Family Collection. © 2015 Georgia O’Keeffe Museum / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
When we think of landscapes, we often think of sweeping scenes of open fields or sun-drenched canyons. But Georgia O’Keeffe’s Black Iris VI, like many other works on view in Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection, approaches nature from a different point of view. This work zooms squarely in on the center of a single open flower.
In the summer of 1936, O’Keeffe was back in her beloved New Mexico, feeling a resurgence of spirit and enjoying her first sustained painting since suffering a nervous breakdown three years earlier. It is a mystery just why the iris appeared among the subjects she painted at Ghost Ranch, outside Santa Fe, though the sculptural petals of this elongated blossom are not unlike the bleached bones she collected. The flower’s black center even appears like the eye sockets of a cow’s skull. Like the skull, the iris has a spiritual presence and is a vessel holding the secret of life and the mystery of death.
Latvian composer Pēteris Vasks. Photo: Santa Savisko-Jekabsone
Pleasing notes and lively melodies will soon be reverberating through the decorated halls of our museum. As part of the Leading European Composers series, the great Latvian composer Pēteris Vasks will lead the RIX Piano Quartet and flutist Dita Krenberga on February 12th at 6:30 pm. Trained as a violinist, the composer grew up during Soviet regime and was able to quickly catapult himself into the greats of European composers after receiving countless Latvian music awards and the Cannes Classical Awards in 2004.
Just as many of Georgia O’Keeffe’s works were, Vasks’s compositions are inspired by the complex relationship between man and nature. His music speaks to the world’s beauty, but also to imminent ecological and moral destruction. In conveying his message, Vasks incorporates animated folk elements from Latvian music with a contemporary angle. This stellar musical performance, in collaboration with the Embassy of Latvia and The George Washington University, will surely be one for the books.
Aysia Woods, Marketing Intern
Last week preschool and kindergarten students from Tyler Elementary School took cues from the masters. In the art workshop, preschoolers experimented with different tools to make abstract expressionist paintings, just like Jackson Pollock. Later in the day kindergarteners drew their own versions of Arthur Dove’s Cows in Pasture (1935) and Georgia O’Keeffe’s Red Hills, Lake George (1927).
Natalie Mann, School, Outreach, and Family Programs Coordinator
Photos: Natalie Mann