Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986)

Pink and Yellow Flowers

Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986)
Pink and Yellow Flowers
signed and dated 'Georgia O'Keeffe March-1927' on the reverse of the original backing
oil on canvasboard
9 x 6in. (24.7 x15.2cm.)
The Intimate Gallery, New York
Mrs. Charles Liebman, New York, acquired from the above
By descent in the family to the present owner
M. L. Berger, Aline Meyer Liebman: Pioneer Artist and Collector, printed privately, 1982, p. 6, illus.

Lot Essay

During the 1920s and 30s, the natural world composed of flowers, trees, leaves and fruit inspired Georgia O'Keeffe to create some of her most famous and powerful images. Her renderings of flowers in particular drew a significant amount of attention from her contemporaries and have since been considered the most desirable and quintessential images by the artist. In addition to O'Keeffe's large scale masterpieces of magnified and abstracted floral images, she executed a series of smaller, jewel-like representations of a single or group of flowers. On a much more intimate scale, these canvases through the ingenious manipulation of color, form and composition, carry an equally powerful visual impact to the larger floral paintings. As Jack Cowart comments, "In each we find emphatic color, composition, clear conception, and visible signs of executions--the trace of her brush, the delicate ridges of pigment. These elements are then put down without compromise or contrivance." (Georgia O'Keeffe, Arts and Letters, Washington DC and Boston, Massachusetts, 1987, p. 4) Pink and Yellow Flowers from 1927 is an example of O'Keeffe's artistic genius encapsulated within a small-scale work.

O'Keeffe's series of intimate floral still lifes, composed of flowers either placed in simple vases or boldly emerging from an ambiguous background, illustrate a continuing investigation into color and form. Through a sublime combination of these two elements, Pink and Yellow Flowers moves beyond traditional floral imagery into a mystical world composed of undulating shapes and pulsating color. Emerging from a monochromatic background composed of varying hues of gray, O'Keeffe produces floral shapes of brilliant pink and yellow. Though unlike the bolder usages of color seen in works such as Red Poppy (1927, private collection) or Single Lilly with Red (1928, Whitney Museum of American Art), the overall emotional impact of Pink and Yellow Flowers remains equally significant. O'Keeffe, Jack Cowart observed, "uses color as emotion. Through color she would transfer the power and effects of music to canvas. In her abstractions, O'Keeffe wrapped color around the ethereal. Whether her images are abstract or figurative, O'Keeffe gives the viewer a profound lesson in emotional and intellectual coloring." (Georgia O'Keeffe, Art and Letters, p. 4)

O'Keeffe poignantly expressed her closely intertwined relationship with floral subject matter: "When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, its your world for the moment. I wanted to give that world to someone else."(R. Robinson, Georgia O'Keeffe, A Life, New York, 1989, p. 279.) Through supple shapes and delectable colors, Pink and Yellow Flowers lures the viewer to delve deeply into O'Keeffe's world which in turn demands to be coveted.

This painting will be considered for inclusion in the forthcoming catalogue raisonn of the artist's work, a joint project of the National Gallery of Art and Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation with the assistance of the Burnett Foundation and the Henry Luce Foundation. Author: Barbara Buhler Lynes.

A copy of Aline Liebman: Pioneer Collector and Artist accompanies the lot.