Friday, April 21, 2017

Wednesdays with Carol, April 19, 2017

A New Way of Thinking about
Georgia O'Keeffe:
She's a Style Icon
We are familiar with the paintings of American modernist, Georgia O'Keeffe. But did you realize that her style, in photographs and clothing, was carefully managed by her to project a serious and individual persona? In the age of Instagram, she could have been posting iconic photographs of herself, but I expect she would have thought of social media as not lofty enough for her purposes.

This past Wednesday I travelled to Brooklyn, to meet my friend, artist and designer, Elke Kuhn at The Brooklyn Museum. On our agenda was the exhibition, "Georgia O'Keeffe: Living Modern".

An early portrait of O'Keeffe.
 Arriving by the 3 train at Eastern Parkway.
 The facade of The Brooklyn Museum.
 First things first.
The gift shop. I covet this daybed.
Elke and I lunched in the museum cafe.
We shared a table with these lovely ladies from Japan.
We started to chat, and they recognized us
from the book, Advanced Style,
by Ari Seth Cohen.
An early illustration by O'Keeffe not only shows
her delicate drawing style, but also
gives us an idea of her fashion sense.
 O'Keeffe sewed these all-white costumes
for herself in the 1920s.
The workmanship is impeccable.
O'Keeffe in a simple dress.
In photographs, she maintained this serious demeanor.
The exhibit contains many photographs of her by
Alfred Stieglitz, her husband, and Ansel Adams,
Phillipe Halsman and Yousuf Karch.
 This handmade evening coat
is my favorite piece in the exhibit.
It has a painted-silk lining. The
geometric ribbon ornamentation at the top
has an Art Nouveau quality.
This painting of leaves has the orange-yellow
palette of the silk lining in my
favorite coat, above.
I was inspired by O'Keeffe's evening coat
 to make this drawing.
 Portrait of O'Keeffe with
a large, black bird.
This dramatic black and
white dress alludes to the
black bird in the portrait above.
At least in my mind.
 Elke, photographing the dress.
 She is wearing a Japanese cape.
Elke has a background in textiles, and has
worked with fibers and made jewelry and hats.
O'Keeffe wearing a black sweater
over a white blouse, intentionally
creating a black/white color-block look.
Painting by O'Keeffe with cut out shapes
like the white of the blouse.
I am wearing a fedora by Lola in this
shot with some later paintings by O'Keeffe.
Oh, how ordinary.
A trio of O'Keeffe's work shirts.
Jeans and navy-blue Keds for ranch work.
Elke looking fabulous
against the backdrop of some Japanese kimonos.
O'Keeffe projected a progressive, independent
style in her clothing, exemplified by these harshly simple
black suits.
O'Keeffe looking like a
small version of Frank Lloyd Wright.
Dress by the designer, Claire McCardell.
O'Keeffe loved this dress and had copies
made in other colors.
She called McCardell "the best woman designer
we've ever had."
 A Marimekko dress.
A group of O'Keeffe's more colorful
dresses. The blue one is from Neiman Marcus.
Photo by Elke Kuhn
This show was a revelation because I never thought of
O'Keeffe as an artist who would use fashion to promote her
brand. But clearly, she loved it and saw a direct correlation
between clothes and art.

À Bientôt!

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