Eye of Modernism

Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

Stuart Davis
Gloucester Wharf
gouache on cardboard
14 15/16 x 18 7/16"

Package on a Handtruck Project
printed in color on
white wove paper,
mounted on museum board
28 x 22⅛ in.

Works on paper, to show "the hand of the artist." Untitled works by Guston, Pollock and Rothko from 1940-50 are simply filling up space. Extreme precision characterizes Reginald Marsh's watercolor of a steamship, New Mexico's scrubland is precisely notated in a 1936 O'Keeffe watercolor, two pastels by Joan Mitchell (1959) give precise indications, two drawings by Agnes Martin (1970's) are precise intersections, Ellsworth Kelly's Dracena II (1983-85) shows an incredible precision of draftsmanship, and O'Keeffe's Peruvian Landscape (1956-57) a careful attention to details. Abstractions, O'Keeffe's early Abstraction with Curve and Circle is a lunar abstraction, Charles Demuth's Sailing Boat (1916) is a clear Feininger abstraction, Preston Dickinson's undated In the Suburbs is a Geometric Abstraction, Sam Francis's 1973 acrylic on paper is inner and outer abstractions, Helen Frankenthaler's 1984 acrylic on paper is mighty abstractionism, John Marin's Maine seascape is Chinese abstraction, Abraham Walkowitz's Cityscape is a universal abstraction, in Arshile Gorky, Chagall meets Abstract Expressionism (note Oldenburg in the lower left), Christo's 1981 Package on a Handtruck Project is a Bauhaus abstraction, and Stuart Davis's magnificent Gloucester Wharf (1926-35) is Western Abstraction. The joke's on Watteau in Arthur B. Davies's Female Nude (The Prude) (cut off at the nose) and Thomas Hart Benton's Barroom in the Missouri Boot Heel (with its THANK YOU sign, akin to Davis) show a very humorous, caricatural side. Max Weber's jigsaw puzzle view of New York and Carl Holty's patternings, Milton Avery's curved space, Romare Bearden's organizational principles, Motherwell's massive taurine organization (Elegy to the Spanish Republic, 1959), and a very superb organization by Charles Burchfield (An Alley in Salem, Ohio, 1917), De Kooning's comprehensive architectural study (Woman, chalk, c. 1952), O'Keeffe's architectural modeling (Untitled [Patio Door], graphite, c. 1946), Frank Stella's architectural model, Study for Warka (1973), and Diebenkorn's architectural city plan (Ocean Park, 1979), Arthur Dove's contrasting values of yellow and blue (Mountain and Sun), Franz Kline's color 3-D, Kenneth Noland's orange-blue-red-green center surrounded by yellows and "marginal comments" (you face it), O'Keeffe's Pond in the Woods (1922) and Bleeding Heart (1932), a modulation or reds, blues and greens, and a variation of tones in lavender, pink and green, a Rothko of 1958 in recessive yellow and forward red, Joseph Stella's study in reds and oranges on black, The Quencher (Night Fires), c. 1919, give you some idea.

Georgia O'Keeffe
Untitled (Abstraction/Portrait of Paul Strand)
watercolor on paper
12 x 8 7/8"

Andy Warhol conveys some show business with the nervous, hammy lines of Untitled (Campbell's Tomato Soup), 1983, and Marilyn Monroe, 1980. The dramatic representation of Cy Twombly's Untitled (14 Papers for Sherwood), 1985, equals that of Everett Shinn's Spoiling for a Fight, New York Docks, 1899. David Smith puts marker to paper to design a jaunty cubist portrait akin to Lipschitz's Sailor, O'Keeffe pays homage to Odilon Redon in a 1962-63 Untitled (Abstraction), Morris Graves to Athena in Offering (1957). Jasper Johns's identified tachisme (Ale Cans I, 1974), Ruscha's public statement (1984, 1967), Robert Smithson's snake-like wisdom, Mark Tobey's shaped Pollock, there's a good deal of variety. John Sloan's Street Scene is a very great drawing, O'Keeffe's Calla Lily Turned Away (1923) is a creamy emotional pastel, Nadelman's Head Facing Left is sculptural forms applied to Rimmer, George Luks's Seated Man is a very patient study.

The picture perfect graphism of O'Keeffe's Untitled (Ranchos Church), 1929, and the seahorse-question mark-clown metamorphosis of her 1917 Untitled (Abstraction/Portrait of Paul Strand) will serve with Lichtenstein's Study for "Modern Painting with Sun Rays" to define a few terms.