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Harold Stein, Georgia O’Keeffe in Hawaii, 1939 (detail). Gift of The Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, NM, USA.
Harold Stein, Georgia O’Keeffe in Hawaii, 1939 (detail). Gift of The Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, NM, USA.
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The New York Botanical Garden Announces Major O'Keeffe Exhibition Next Year

Picture of Rachel Gould
Art & Design Editor
Updated: 16 October 2017
While so many of Georgia O’Keeffe’s modernist masterpieces took inspiration from the arid majesty of the American southwest, a forthcoming show at the New York Botanical Garden will examine the artist’s lesser-known work from a two-month stint painting the Hawaiian ecosystem.

A major American artist whose work was often tied to nature, Georgia O’Keeffe is widely recognized for her portrayals of flora—hence the New York Botanical Garden’s announcement that their next landmark exhibition, Georgia O’Keeffe: Visions of Hawai’i, will open in May 2018.

Georgia O’Keeffe, Heliconia—Crab’s Claw Ginger, 1939. Collection of Sharon Twigg-Smith.
Georgia O’Keeffe, Heliconia—Crab’s Claw Ginger, 1939. Collection of Sharon Twigg-Smith.

Best known for her colorful renderings of expansive desertscapes and magnified flower studies, the work O’Keeffe produced in Hawaii has flown curiously under the radar. Next spring, the New York Botanical Garden intends to highlight her paintings from this time by contextualizing them botanically, historically, and culturally.

In 1939, the artist accepted a nine-week, on-site commission from the Hawaiian Pineapple Company (Dole) to create two paintings for a new advertising campaign. She ultimately produced over 20 paintings of mountain ranges and waterfalls, not to mention enlarged studies of exotic plant life across Hawaii, Kauai, Maui, and Oahu.

Georgia O’Keeffe: Visions of Hawai’i, will explore this lesser-known chapter in her career, the enduring cultural impact of mid-century perceptions of Hawai’i, and the ecological complexity of the Hawaiian Islands—one of the most biologically diverse places on Earth—hidden behind O’Keeffe’s depictions,” according to the press release.

“Integrating art, horticulture, and historical interpretation, the exhibition will explore the Hawai’i that O’Keeffe encountered and also reveal the complex history of the plants and the Islands that she was not familiar with at the time.”

Georgia O’Keeffe: Visions of Hawai’i will open at the New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY 10458 on May 19, 2018.