GEORGIA O'KEEFFE (1887-1986)
GEORGIA O'KEEFFE (1887-1986)
GEORGIA O'KEEFFE (1887-1986)
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GEORGIA O'KEEFFE (1887-1986)
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On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more Visionary: The Paul G. Allen Collection
GEORGIA O'KEEFFE (1887-1986)

Red Hills with Pedernal, White Clouds

GEORGIA O'KEEFFE (1887-1986)
Red Hills with Pedernal, White Clouds
oil on canvas
20 x 30 in. (50.8 x 76.2 cm.)
Painted in 1936
Doris Bry, New York.
Private collection, New York (1968).
Doris Bry, New York.
Private collection, Alpine (acquired from the above, circa 1985); sale, Sotheby’s, New York, 21 May 2003, lot 119.
Kippy Stroud, Philadelphia (acquired at the above sale); Estate sale, Christie’s, New York, 19 May 2016, lot 10.
Acquired at the above sale by the late owner.
D. Bry and N. Callaway, Georgia O’Keeffe in the West, New York, 1989, p. 31 (illustrated in color).
B.B. Lynes, Georgia O’Keeffe: Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven, 1999, vol. I, p. 561, no. 899 (illustrated in color) and vol. II, Appendix III, p. 1128 (illustrated in situ at the 1937-1938 An American Place exhibition, fig. 67).
H. Drohojowska-Philp, Full Bloom: The Art and Life of Georgia O’Keeffe, New York, 2004, p. 364.
N.H. Reily, Georgia O’Keeffe, A Private Friendship, Part I: Walking the Sun Prairie Land, Santa Fe, 2007, p. 358.
B.B. Lynes, ed., Georgia O’Keeffe, exh. cat., Milano, 2011, p. 17 (illustrated in color, fig. 5).
J.F. VanVoorst, What’s Great About New Mexico?, Minneapolis, 2015, pp. 14-15 (illustrated).
J. Souter, O’Keeffe, New York, 2016 (illustrated in color).
New York, An American Place, Georgia O’Keeffe: The 14th Annual Exhibition of Paintings with Some Recent O’Keeffe Letters, December 1937-February 1938, no. 24.
Kunsthaus Zürich, Georgia O’Keeffe, October 2003-February 2004, pp. 108 and 194, no. 42 (illustrated in color, p. 108).
Santa Fe, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum; Columbus Museum of Art and Wilmington, Delaware Art Museum, Georgia O’Keeffe and New Mexico: A Sense of Place, June 2004-May 2005, pp. 98-99 and 131, no. 27 (illustrated in color, p. 99, pl. 42).
Special notice
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is such a lot.

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Max Carter
Max Carter Vice Chairman, 20th and 21st Century Art, Americas

Lot Essay

Combining emotional response with meditation on form and color, Georgia O’Keeffe uniquely infused her panoramic landscapes of the American Southwest with a sense of spiritual wonder. While faithful to creating representative paintings of her surroundings, O’Keeffe distilled each scene to evoke, as Sarah Greenough has described, “the passion and intensity of the life in the Southwest but also its ultimate mystery and impenetrable sense of otherness” (Modern Art and America: Alfred Stieglitz and his New York Galleries, Washington, D.C., 2000, p. 460). Capturing in vibrant hues one of the artist’s favorite formations of the New Mexico landscape, Red Hills with Pedernal, White Clouds conveys O’Keeffe’s deep love and appreciation for this enchanted land.
O’Keeffe made her first prolonged visit from New York to New Mexico in 1929. She felt an instant connection to the region, which stirred her to return for extended stays almost annually before eventually moving permanently in 1949. After initial years staying in Taos and Alcalde, in 1934 she was looking for a new home base in the area and discovered the perfect location at Ghost Ranch, located in the Chama River Valley approximately sixty miles northwest of Santa Fe, near Abiquiu. Renting a cottage on the land for several summers, she eventually bought her own house on seven acres of the Ranch in 1940.
One of O’Keeffe’s favorite natural wonders visible along the horizon line at Ghost Ranch was the Cerro Pedernal. Covered with dark green pines and deciduous trees, the top of the mesa is nearly ten thousand feet above sea level and has been worn to an odd angle by erosion. Infatuated by the form and stimulated by the spirituality of the site, O'Keeffe began to use the mesa as a recurrent motif in her paintings. Between 1936 and 1958, she executed twenty-seven depictions of the Pedernal, twenty of which are in public collections, including the Brooklyn Museum; Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa; Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe; Minneapolis Institute of Arts; Munson-Williams-Proctor Art Institute, Utica; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; New Mexico Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe; Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach; Orlando Museum of Art; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and Yale Museum of Art, New Haven. She spiritedly expressed her love of this natural landmark when she declared, “It's my private mountain. It belongs to me. God told me if I painted it enough, I could have it” (quoted in L. Lisle, Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O'Keeffe, New York, 1980, p. 235).
One of her first paintings of the site, Red Hills with Pedernal, White Clouds captures the beloved Pedernal in the distance, with the crisp outlines and subtle modeling of forms simultaneously creating a sense of sculptural depth and flattened design. The work explores how the Southwestern light enabled O’Keeffe to see clearly over great distances, with the horizontal format and layered composition conveying a striking sense of the region’s expansive panoramic views. O’Keeffe also delights in painting the nuances of this unique landscape; for example, she illustrates the area at the top of the blue Pedernal that had suffered a forest fire, leaving a green area of deciduous growth in the summer in a shape she described as a “deer leaping over the mountain” (Maria Chabot—Georgia O’Keeffe, Correspondence, 1941-49, Santa Fe, 2003, p. 200). Similarly, the warm coral hills in the foreground are bisected by a painterly gray stripe, representing a contrasting silt layer within the local rock formations.
While the landscape is recognizable as a specific place, in Red Hills with Pedernal, White Clouds O’Keeffe distills each representational element to its essence in order to create her most impactful, personal recording of the scene. With its wide range of hues, from warm reds to cool blues, the present work is among O’Keeffe’s most vibrant and joyful New Mexico landscapes, providing a glimpse into her passion for the views that would endlessly inspire during her long and storied career.

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