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)

Sand Hill, Alcalde

Details
GEORGIA O'KEEFFE (1887-1986)
Sand Hill, Alcalde
oil on canvas
16 x 30 in. (40.6 x 76.2 cm.)
Painted in 1930
Provenance
The Downtown Gallery, New York.
Private collection, Mount Kisco (acquired from the above, 1950).
Joan Ankrum Gallery, Los Angeles.
Kennedy Galleries, Inc., New York.
Private collection, Los Angeles (acquired from the above, 1972); sale, Christie’s, New York, 22 November 2016, lot 7.
Acquired at the above sale by the late owner.
Literature
B.B. Lynes, Georgia O'Keeffe: Catalogue Raisonné, vol. I, New Haven, 1999, p. 442, no. 727 (illustrated in color).
N. Reily, Georgia O’Keeffe, A Private Friendship, Part I: Walking the Sun Prairie Land, Santa Fe, 2007, p. 317.
Exhibited
San Francisco, John Berggruen Gallery, Georgia O’Keeffe: Paintings and Watercolors, September-October 1977, no. 15.
San Francisco, John Berggruen Gallery, A Selection of Paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe, July-September 1986, no. 9.
San Francisco, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 1990, on loan.
Santa Fe, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, on extended loan.
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

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 one of her initial visits to the region, Sand Hill, Alcalde of 1930 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. They rode the Twentieth Century Limited train from New York to Chicago, before transferring to the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe line and disembarking at the Lamy station 20 miles outside Santa Fe. 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 stay in New Mexico, 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” (S. Greenough, ed., My Faraway One: Selected Letters of Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz, New Haven, 2011, pp. 429-30).
Her travel to the Southwest not only allowed O’Keeffe to walk into the landscape and immerse herself in the local atmosphere, but also importantly to learn how to drive. She purchased a Ford Model A and “outfitted the car, named Hello, for painting by taking out the front passenger seat, unbolting the driver’s seat and turning it around to face backwards. The backseat would then function like an easel holding up a painting while she worked, protected all the while from heat, flies and inclement weather. In her jaunts through the countryside, Hello became her studio on wheels” (A.I. Guzmán, Georgia O’Keeffe at Home, London, 2017, p. 82). Over the following years, O’Keeffe made almost annual trips to New Mexico, riding around for inspiration and painting in relative solitude for up to six months, then returning to New York each winter to exhibit her new works at Stieglitz’s gallery An American Place.
During the summers of 1930 and 1931, O’Keeffe stayed at the H Ranch as the guest of Marie Tudor Garland. Just south of Alcalde, New Mexico—roughly 40 miles southwest of Taos along the Rio Grande—the spare landscape both captivated and overwhelmed the artist. Indeed, she wrote to Henry McBride in 1931 from Alcalde: “It galls me that I haven’t the courage to sleep out there in the hills alone—but I haven’t” (quoted in S.R. Udall, Carr, O’Keeffe, Kahlo: Places of Their Own, New Haven, 2000, p. 223). Still, she found a deep connection emotionally and artistically with the land. Reflecting on her drives around Alcalde, O’Keeffe opined, “I think I never had a better time painting—and never worked more steadily and never loved the country more” (quoted in R. Robinson, Georgia O’Keeffe: A Life, Hanover, 1999, p. 359).
Sand Hill, Alcalde depicts the stark beauty of this part of New Mexico, reducing the rolling hills into a sculpturally folded form in neutral tones, cropped to reveal just a sliver of blue sky with white cloud above. Dramatically isolating the single earthen mound against the sapphire background, she creates an almost portrait-like depiction that monumentalizes what is in fact just one of countless similar hills in the region. With this strategic cropping and her crisply minimal palette, the scene is abstracted enough that it is elevated to the realm of the ethereal and otherworldly, and can perhaps also be seen as anticipatory of the work of another female artist inspired by the Southwest, Agnes Martin. Through these artistic devices, O’Keeffe invites the viewer to appreciate her very personal love for the unique terrain. As O’Keeffe herself described, she sought in her paintings “to create an equivalent for what I felt about what I was looking at—not copy it” (quoted in Georgia O'Keeffe: The Poetry of Things, Washington, D.C., 1999, p. 69).
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