Crystal Bridges Museum Debuts Traveling Exhibition 'The Beyond: Georgia O’Keeffe and Contemporary Art'

  • BENTONVILLE, Arkansas
  • /
  • June 14, 2018

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Louise Jones working on her 30-foot mural for

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art presents the debut of The Beyond: Georgia O’Keeffe and Contemporary Art on view now through September 3, 2018. After the debut at Crystal Bridges, The Beyond will travel to the North Carolina Museum of Art, October 13, 2018 to January 20, 2019, and to the New Britain Museum of American Art, February 22 to June 2, 2019.

Created by Crystal Bridges, The Beyond brings together sculptures, murals, photographs, paintings, and more by Georgia O’Keeffe and 20 contemporary artists working in similar themes. Building on works from the museum’s collection and borrowing from public and private collections, the exhibition features 36 O’Keeffe works spanning her career. Works include Radiator Building—Night, New York (1927), Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1(1932), Flying Backbone (1944), and a 1972 painting The Beyond, which inspired the exhibition’s title and was one of the last works she completed unassisted as her eyesight began to fail. Abstraction (modeled 1946, cast ca. 1979-1980), one of the few sculptures O’Keeffe created, will be on view, as well as several of her sketchbooks for the first time.

“Crystal Bridges is excited to present this extraordinary blend of iconic, rare, and contemporary works in one exhibition,” said Rod Bigelow, Crystal Bridges Executive Director and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer. “The Beyond was organized by Crystal Bridges and will debut here before it travels the country, sharing the legacy of O’Keeffe while introducing visitors to the next generation of artists exploring the unfolding American story.”

Georgia O’Keeffe, Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1, 1932, oil on canvas, 48 x 40 in., Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. Photography by Edward C. Robison III

Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986), is often called the mother of American Modernism. She has created some of the most enduring art of twentieth century with images ofenormous flowers, luscious colors, landscapes, feminine forms, and still lifes. The same elements that make O’Keeffe’s works recognizable have inspired artists for generations. The exhibition introduces viewers to the following contemporary artists whoevoke, investigate, and expand upon O’Keeffe’s artistic legacy:

Negar Ahkami, Milano Chow, Cynthia Daignault, Sharona Eliassaf, Monica Kim Garza, Loie Hollowell, Pearl C. Hsiung, Louise Jones, Kim Keever, Molly Larkey, Caroline Larsen, Mark Lewis, Wardell Milan, Jennifer Packer, Dylan Gebbia-Richards, Andy Robert, Matthew Ronay, Tschabalala Self, Anna Valdez and Britny Wainwright.

 “O’Keeffe is a touchstone of Modern art,” said Crystal Bridges Curator, Contemporary Art, Lauren Haynes. “We hope visitors will walk away from The Beyond with a broader understanding of her diverse body of work, and we encourage visitors to discover new artists who are working today, in their own unique artistic language, expanding upon O’Keeffe’s exploration of these particular themes.”

Throughout the galleries, O’Keeffe’s pioneering works will be interspersed among the contemporary works in six themed sections: FlowersFinding the FigureThe Intangible ThingStill LifesCities & Deserts, and The BeyondThis combined presentation offers moments of connection and conversation.

Louise Jones shown with her mural in-progress.

O’Keeffe may be best known for her flower paintings, which she began painting in 1924 as a response to modern architecture and the Machine Age. The flower section includes works by artists responding to subjects ranging from police violence to the contemporary economy. Visitors to the exhibition will be greeted by a 30-foot-tall floral mural created by Detroit artist, Louise Jones in the corridor outside the exhibition. Jones’ approach to painting stems from her interest in exploring femininity, and serves as a means to explore shape and color. Prior to painting the site-specific mural, she spent time with local experts to learn about the native plants and flora of the Ozarks, which inspired Picked from the Garden of Celestial Delights, (2018). The plants depicted in this work include Coral Charm Peony, Butterfly Flowering Dogwood, and Lamb’s Ear. 

Visitors entering the Cities and Deserts section will discover two of O’Keeffe’s great subjects: the skyscrapers of New York City and the rolling deserts of New Mexico. In this grouping, contemporary artists demonstrate a similar interest in cityscapes andlandscapes to convey complex meaning and feeling. Like O’Keeffe, Tulsa-based artist Mark Lewis focuses on daily life within the fabric of the city. Lewis’s graphite and paper collage streetscape, Peoria Ave. No. 7, (2011) made on-location, captures the energy of his hometown, while Sharona Eliassaf’s colorful paintings like Stars to Dust, Dust to Stars (2016) demonstrate a global reach, reflecting the artist’s trips between New York City and Israel, which she has been making since childhood. Eliassaf’s imagined landscapes blend television gameshows, whose backdrops are instantly recognizable in her work, with the geometric rhythm of city skylines.

Haynes adds, “The pairing of an American icon with a group of 20 contemporary makers who have their own diverse set of practices and life experiences, opens up new conversations and possibilities, encouraging visitors to look closely. Eleven of the artists from The Beyond will be leading talks and workshops at the museum, giving visitors a rare chance to hear directly from them for a deeper understanding of the ongoing relevance of O’Keeffe’s work and connections between our collective history and our present.”

This exhibition is organized by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and was curated by Lauren Haynes, Curator, Contemporary Art, Crystal Bridges; and Chad Alligood, independent curator.

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