Aftereffect: O’Keeffe and Contemporary Painting at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (through May 26) brings together a select group of artists whose work resonates with that of Georgia O'Keeffe. From her formal innovations, to her ambition to transcribe her ideas and emotions, to her distinctive approach to abstraction and the landscape of New Mexico, O'Keeffe's legacy is identifiable in the work of several generations of painters. These artists share her interest in capturing what Jerry Saltz refers to as the "objective and subjective all at once." That is, in their art, the physical world is neither subjected to, nor victorious over the imagination of the artist, but rather, the two are continuously at play.
The painters gathered here explore a set of formal qualities pioneered by O’Keeffe and modernists of her circle. This is not an exhibition that pays homage to O’Keeffe’s “Santa Fe style” or brings together her paintings with those of other artists based on mere iconographic affinities. Rather, it investigates the ways O’Keeffe’s distinctive formal innovations of scale, space, use of color, and framing, among other compositional devices, remain relevant to painters working today. This exhibition is designed to be an artist-driven experience for visitors that seriously assesses—from a very unique angle—contemporary painting and delivers a fresh view of O’Keeffe’s contribution to the history of landscape painting and abstraction.
Inspired by the 2009 exhibition Georgia O'Keeffe: Abstraction, the Whitney Museum of American Art's long-overdue exploration of the artist's place in the history of modernist abstraction, Aftereffect initiates an equally overdue assessment of O'Keeffe's lasting influence in the art world today. The artists in the exhibition have found in O'Keeffe's work what the Whitney Museum's exhibition demonstrated: a tradition of modernist painting distinct from Jackson Pollock and the Abstract Expressionists. Aftereffect: O'Keeffe and Contemporary Painting offers both a reassessment of O'Keeffe's contribution to the history of American painting and introduces fresh ideas about the state of painting today.
In addition to 8 works by Georgia O’Keeffe, the exhibition features recent work by Jeffrey Gibson, Mary Heilmann, Emily Joyce, Matt Connors, Carrie Moyer, Mary Weatherford, Lesley Vance, Corey Drieth, Loie Hollowell, Gretchen Marie Schaefer, Leslie Smith III, and Melissa Thorne.