Georgia O’Keeffe at the Beyeler Foundation: a sensory journey

Zoé Molnar

By Zoé Molnar17 février 2022

The major retrospective of the American artist Georgia O'Keeffe at the Beyeler Foundation aims to draw attention to the relevance and modernity of the artist's bold and radical vision.

An oil on canvas by Georgia O'Keeffe, known for her large-scale flower paintings (Dallas Museum of Art)

Georgia O'Keeffe is a pioneering artist who has left her mark on the history of American art. She is most famous for her large-scale flower paintings, which have influenced feminist iconography, but not only that. She developed her own modernist language, a very formal treatment between figuration and abstraction, which makes her paintings particularly powerful and appealing. She poses colours and forms with virtuosity, and it definitely doesn't have the same impact on the small screen as in an exhibition situation.

The retrospective, currently on view at the Fondation Beyeler in Basel, invites us to re-discover O'Keeffe's art and life. The scenography is simple and effective, and the relevant texts gently and generously guide the public through the artist's work and sensibility, thanks to a chronological and geographical route. Time slows down, and we truly look.

Among the works on view is Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1, the painting that broke a world auction record for a female artist in 2014, selling for more than $44.4 million at Sotheby's, allowing the house to dethrone its rival Christie's on this point.

Despite a final room that may give the impression of a certain loss of steam, the retrospective succeeds in its aim: an engaging and sensory journey that inspires the desire to set out to explore the arid and mystical lands of New Mexico, which the artist painted relentlessly until her death in 1986.

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