April on Art...and Design
In South Florida and Beyond
Georgia O'Keeffe art lovers, run to the Norton Museum in West Palm Beach to see some exceptional art of hers! Move quickly because the exhibition closes May 15. You will also get a chance to see other fine artwork that may come as a surprise--paintings by three other Modernists from NYC--Marguerite Zorach, Helen Torr and Florine Stettheimer. All were contemporaries of O'Keeffe, worked in the same city at the same time (1920s and 1930s) as she did and socialized with her or knew of her art. But who has heard of them now? The work of these three painters has been virtually ignored until the last decade. The disappointment three of them faced professionally, despite a certain amount of acclaim during their lifetimes, can be seen in face of Helen Torr, in this Self Portrait in oil she painted ca. 1934-1935.
Referring to all four artists, Ellen Roberts, the organizer of the exhibition and the Helen and Anne Berkley Smith Curator of American art at the Norton, notes that "The majority of critics in their era saw their work through the lens of their gender, limiting their understanding of it." These painters wanted to be judged simply as artists. O'Keeffe eventually achieved that goal. But the other three found their reputations fading with time, and today are still seen through a "gender" lens, according to Roberts.
Marguerite Zorach (Bathers, oil top left) studied in Europe and burst onto the California art scene with a Fauvist style that shook up the American critics. But after starting a family, she turned to embroidery and textiles which were not taken as seriously, but brought in steady income. Helen Torr (January, left) created lovely, lonely abstracts of nature and buildings. She was unfortunately overshadowed by her husband Arthur Dove, who became much better known than she was as a leading Modernist.
Florine Stettheimer (Portrait of Myself, above left), was a well-to-do socialite, who lived with her mother and sisters in NYC. A decade older than the other three artists, she started out with an light Fauvist style. But after her 1916 one-woman exhibition at the Knoedler Gallery did not generate sales, she never again exhibited in public. Nonetheless, she continued to paint and created a delightfully gay new style, almost surrealistic that foreshadowed much of Marc Chagall's dream-like work. In this new style she frequently created scenes that satirized the society she lived in—from Spring Sale at Bendel’s to Studio Party.
Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings jump out at you from the dark walls in the final gallery (See The Shelton with Sunspots, NY. 1926, above right.) They show her progression from the flowers that reinforced her image as a “woman” painter to other subject matter. These paintings of city scenes, animal skulls, and other topics, completely overturned the stereotypical label she started out with, and brought her much greater, lasting fame than the other three artists, at least in their lifetimes.
IF YOU GO: O'Keeffe, Stettheimer, Torr, Zorach: Four Women Modernists in New York WHERE The Norton Museum in West Palm Beach DATES Runs through May 15 DAYS AND HOURS Monday through Sunday 10 am or 11 am to 5 pm; open until 9 pm Thursday COST OF ADMISSION: Adults, $12; students, $5; Children under 12 and members, free; MORE INFORMATION www.norton.org
Dear Art Lover: