Late Works and Stylistic Experimentation


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Ida Ten Eyck O'Keeffe (American, 1889–1961), Star Gazing in Texas, 1938. Oil on canvas, framed: 27 3/4 × 33 3/4 × 1 in. Dallas Museum of Art, General Acquisitions Fund and Janet Kendall Forsythe Fund in honor of Janet Kendall Forsythe on behalf of the Earl A. Forsythe family, 2017.36

Beginning in 1934, Ida O’Keeffe assumed the first in a string of teaching and fellowship positions that took her to North Carolina, Alabama, New York, several locations in New England, New Jersey, Missouri, Texas, Oregon, and, finally, to Whittier, California, where she settled and spent the last nineteen years of her life. While she continued to create and exhibit her work, these serial dislocations were disruptive and stressful, sapping both the energy and time necessary for the thoughtful development and maturation of her art.
 
In the latter part of her career, O’Keeffe continued to explore several styles and genres simultaneously (realism and abstraction, still life and landscape). This lack of singular focus frustrated critics, who were accustomed to artists with a cohesive style. Her experiments with abstraction ranged from vibrant, non-objective paintings to the subdued nocturnal landscapes of 1938, the latter of which were particularly admired by critics.