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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Modern American Masterworks from the Ted Shen Collection
GEORGIA O'KEEFFE (1887-1986)

Lavender & Green Hill—Ghost Ranch

GEORGIA O'KEEFFE (1887-1986)
Lavender & Green Hill—Ghost Ranch
signed with initials 'OK' in artist's star device and inscribed with title (on a piece of the original backing)
oil on board
8 x 13 1/2 in. (20.3 x 34.3 cm.)
Painted in 1935.
Doris Bry, New York.
George and Ellen Conant, St. Louis, Missouri, acquired from the above, 1975.
Private collection, Dallas, Texas, gift from the above.
Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Private collection, St. Paul, Minnesota, acquired from the above, 1990.
Gerald Peters Gallery, New York.
Acquired by the present owner from the above, 1996.
B.B. Lynes, Georgia O'Keeffe: Catalogue Raisonné, vol. I, New Haven, Connecticut, 1999, p. 539, no. 871, illustrated.
B. Benke, K. Williams, Georgia O'Keeffe, 1887-1986: Flowers in the Desert, Cologne, Germany, 2000, p. 61, illustrated (as Hills—Lavender, Ghost Ranch, New Mexico II).
New York, An American Place, Georgia O’Keeffe: Exhibition of Recent Paintings, January 7-February 23, 1936, no. 6 (as Hills—Lavender, Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, II).
Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art; Chicago, Illinois, Art Institute of Chicago; Dallas, Texas, Dallas Museum of Art; New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Los Angeles, California, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Georgia O’Keeffe: 1887-1986, November 1, 1987-June 18, 1989, n.p., no. 87, illustrated (as Hills—Lavender, Ghost Ranch, New Mexico II).
Greenville, South Carolina, Greenville County Museum of Art, Georgia O’Keeffe, July 7-August 22, 1993.
London, The Lefevre Gallery, Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986), April 8-May 7, 1993, pp. 7, 28-29, no. 11, illustrated (as Lavender Hills, Ghost Ranch).
New York and Santa Fe, New Mexico, Gerald Peters Gallery, Georgia O’Keeffe: Floral Works and Small Paintings, May 4-August 5, 1995.
Brooklyn, New York, The Brooklyn Museum, Georgia O'Keeffe: Living Modern, March 3-July 23, 2017.

Brought to you by

Tylee Abbott
Tylee Abbott Vice President, Head of American Art

Lot Essay

Upon her first arrival in the Southwest, Georgia O’Keeffe immediately felt a personal connection to the vastness, beauty and color of the local landscape. The distinct hills and mesas were the first scenes she painted in New Mexico, and she returned to the subject time and again. Painted during her first years visiting the region, Lavender & Green Hill—Ghost Ranch captures the artist’s exciting early days of falling in love with a new land of inspiration.

O’Keeffe made her first prolonged stay in New Mexico in 1929 with her friend and fellow artist Rebecca Salsbury James. Their destination was Los Gallos Ranch—the Taos home of socialite and patron Mabel Dodge Luhan, which functioned as a center of the local arts scene and where O’Keeffe would set up her first studio in the area. During this first trip, O’Keeffe discovered her spiritual connection to the landscape, writing to her husband and dealer Alfred Stieglitz: “I have never had a more beautiful walk—The mountains, the scrubby cedar were so rich and warm colored they seemed to come right up to me and touch my skin…I seem to be hunting for something of myself out there—something in myself that will give me a symbol for all this—a symbol for the sense of life I get out here…I wish you could stand here beside me—just for a moment at least—it is such a different world.” (as quoted in S. Greenough, ed., My Faraway One: Selected Letters of Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz, New Haven, Connecticut, 2011, pp. 429-30)

After initial years staying in Taos and Alcalde, in 1934 O’Keeffe 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.

As with many of O’Keeffe’s best works, the success of Lavender & Green Hill—Ghost Ranch is in her conscious editing of the scene to better focus on her own emotional reaction to the landscape. Sarah Greenough explains, “As she shed New York and embraced the brilliant light of New Mexico, her work became cleaner and sharper as she began to employ greatly simplified forms...encapsulating not only 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) For example, by removing all evidence of foliage, wildlife and surface rubble, O’Keeffe reduces the mountains to areas of light and shadow, allowing her to explore the elements of pattern and flattened design. In addition, the very high horizon in Lavender & Green Hill—Ghost Ranch, revealing only a hint of bright blue sky, decontextualizes the shadowy hills, further heightening this effect. By creatively cropping in this way to isolate the distant peaks, O’Keeffe captures the desolate mood of the desert while remaining true to its barren beauty.

While the landscape is recognizable as a specific place, in Lavender & Green Hill—Ghost Ranch 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 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.

Describing O’Keeffe’s work in the Southwest, Lloyd Goodrich writes, “The Southwest has been painted often—but often badly, by artists who believe that a beautiful subject produces a beautiful picture. But O’Keeffe translates this landscape into the language of art. She models the hills so that they possess substance and weight. She carves their intricate folded and furrowed forms into powerful sculptural creations. The unbelievable colors of the desert are recorded without sweetening, in full-bodied earthy harmonies. Always her desert poetry is embodied in robust physical language, speaking to her senses.” (Georgia O'Keeffe Retrospective Exhibition, New York, 1970, p. 22)

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