Saturday, May 1st, 2010
The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has created a large online database of 3000 items from its collection. Now you can browse the entire database or search for a specific piece among the thousands of images of O’Keefe’s art and photographs from the Museum Collection, plus correspondence and other archives from the Research Center collection.
There are over 900 Georgia O’Keeffe works in the database, from her iconic flowers and bleached desert skulls, to nudes, landscapes, cityscapes, abstractions, and more, ranging in date from 1901 to 1984. The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Research Center archives photographic collections, study materials, and the Georgia O’Keeffe General Correspondence collection, among other things.
I’m particularly fascinated by the Personal Tangible Property collection, which contains O’Keefe’s personal art materials like brushes, easels, frames, and paints, found objects she used in her works like bones, rocks and shells, plus her clothing and household furnishings. It’s neat to catch a glimpse of how she lived and worked, of the things that she surrounded herself with, that inspired her art.
The images are all high resolution, so you can zoom way, way in to her paintings and see the most minute detail. Here’s a 1919 piece, Series I White & Blue Flower Shapes, for example. The picture as you first see it is only 12.5% zoomed in. Go up 100% and drag the little square in the thumbnail to see the brush strokes, even the individual brush hairs.
Interesting tidbit about O’Keeffe’s flowers which I just learned from the museum website: she was annoyed that critics saw in her extreme closeups of the sexual anatomy of flowers (and in her other works, for that matter) an expression of her gender and sexuality.
In 1943, O’Keeffe finally responded: “Well – I made you take time to look at what I saw and when you took time to really notice my flowers you hung all your own associations with flowers on my flower and you write about my flower as if I think and see what you think and see of the flower – and I don’t.” (In Ernest W. Watson, “Georgia O’Keeffe,” American Artist [June 1943]:10.)
Those critics were projecting, in other words, and so have I been.
The museum will continue to add to the online database, so check back regularly if you looked for something and couldn’t find it.