Free Lecture on Georgia O’keeffe July 8 at the Mahaiwe

For Immediate Release

June 22, 2009

Georgia O’Keeffe burst onto the New York art scene in the early twentieth century and captured the imagination of people around the world, not only with incredible artistic talent, but through her bohemian spirit as well. Join the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute’s Michael Cassin at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center as he discusses O’Keeffe’s life and friendship with Arthur Dove and his role in the development of her early abstract paintings. The lecture, free and open to the public, will occur on Wednesday, July 8, at 7 pm, at the Mahaiwe. For more information, call the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center at 413-528-0100 or visit mahaiwe.org.

Although Dove and O’Keeffe’s approach to imagery ultimately diverged, their shared interest in capturing the ephemeral, fugitive traits of nature—the play of light on water, the transitions of the sun and moon, and the rustle of the wind through grass—was the basis for an abiding commitment to each other’s works and a profound aesthetic connection that lasted throughout their lifetimes.

From the start of her career, O’Keeffe credited a reproduction of a Dove pastel as her introduction to modernism. Dove’s use of sensual, abstract forms to evoke the flowing rhythms and patterns of nature had already put him at the forefront of the American modernist movement by the time O’Keeffe entered the scene around 1916. Dove had been featured at the renowned photographer Alfred Stieglitz’s New York gallery “291” in 1912, and O’Keeffe’s work was first shown there in 1916. Works from this period, including Dove’s Abstraction, No. 3 (1910-11) and O’Keeffe’s No. 24-Special/No. 24 (1916-17), established the innovative aesthetic vision that characterized their early work.

O’Keeffe’s influence on Dove can be seen in the 1930s, when he turned to her early works, particularly her watercolors, such as Sunrise (1916), as means through which to renew his own work and vision. Although O’Keeffe had long abandoned the medium, Dove created a number of important works including Sunrise #1 (1936) during this period, when he found his inspiration in what he called O’Keeffe’s “burning watercolors.”

The Clark adds a new chapter to the discussion of O’Keeffe’s life with Dove/O’Keeffe: Circles of Influence, the first exhibition to reveal the role of modernist painter Arthur Dove in O’Keeffe’s artistic development. This Clark-exclusive exhibition is on view through September 7.

The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, located in Great Barrington, is a year-round presenter of performing arts, film, and educational programs for the Southern Berkshires and neighboring communities. The newly restored historic theater strives to present affordable programs that appeal to all ages and interests.

The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. The galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm (daily in July and August). Admission June 1 through October 31 is $12.50 for adults, free for children 18 and younger, members, and students with valid ID. Admission is free November through May. For more information, call 413-458-0524 or visit www.clarkart.edu.

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