Entertainment

Georgia O'Keefe retrospective at AGO

By Jane Stevenson, Postmedia Network

The AGO is the only stop in North America for the Georgia O'Keefe retrospective. Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 (1932). Sold for $44,405,000 at Sotheby’s. SOTHEBY'S

The AGO is the only stop in North America for the Georgia O'Keefe retrospective. Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 (1932). Sold for $44,405,000 at Sotheby’s. SOTHEBY'S

Toronto - 

Georgia O'Keeffe became known in pop culture for her evocative large scale flower studies.

But they only represented about 10% of her hugely prolific output of over 850 paintings.

There's so much more to the American modernist painter's six decades of artwork as the first major Canadian O'Keeffe's retrospective - opening Saturday (April 22) at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto - can beautifully attest.

From her early, dark New York skyscrapers to her later rust-coloured New Mexican landscapes, O'Keeffe's brilliant renderings of her various surroundings are at the AGO in all their glory with more than 80 pieces on display until July 30.

There's also a selection of striking black-and-white photographs of the artist taken by her husband and photographer Alfred Stieglitz who put on her first art exhibit 100 years ago at his New York City Gallery, 291.

The Wisconsin-born O'Keeffe, who began as an art teacher before Stieglitz discovered her early charcoal drawings, lived to be 98 in her beloved New Mexico which she first visited in 1929 before permanently moving there in 1949 after her husband's death.

The AGO run is the only North American stop of the O'Keeffe exhibit.

The spectacular collection includes Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 which broke the record for the most expensive painting sold at auction by a female artist in 2014, selling for US$44.4 million at Sotheby's.

(It also hung in the dining room during the George W. Bush-era White House.)

Moreover, the only painting she made in Canada, Nature Forms -Gaspe, is included in the exhibit.

"Her attitude towards nature is very much a Canadian attitude towards nature," says curator Georgina Uhlyarik. "The way in which we commune with it, the way in which it's an endless source of inspiration and expression."