Amon Carter Museum of American Art/c 2015 Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

Amon Carter Museum of American Art/c 2015 Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

TAM has been on an Old West/frontier binge of late, what with

TAM has been on an Old West/frontier binge of late, what with the recent Haub bequest, and Matika Wilbur’s Native American portraits last year. And few artists are as indelibly associated with the cactus flowers and deer skulls of the desert Southwest than Georgia O’Keeffe, whose work anchors the Eloquent Objects still-life show, which opened in March. She’s the main draw, though 30 others from the Taos/Santa Fe school are featured. (There’s also a Northwest sidebar with Morris Graves, Norman Lundin, and company.) Arguably the most famous American woman artist of the 20th century, O’Keeffe (1887–1986) to me has always seemed trapped by her successful, popular image—see: cactus flowers and deer skulls—and the career orchestrations of her husband, photographer Alfred Stieglitz. He died in 1946, soon after which O’Keeffe permanently decamped to her two restored haciendas near Ghost Ranch, in northern New Mexico. During the ’50s she painted what might be called architectural studies of adobe walls and doorways: harsh sun and stark shadow creating lines more rigorous than any architect’s pencil; the old muddy solidity of these primitive walls becoming—when severely cropped, as was her fashion—as modernist as anything Frank Lloyd Wright was doing at the time. A great example is Black Patio Door (1955), though Black Door With Red, from the same year, is even more of a knockout. Most everything else in this worthwhile show—which includes 64 paintings and supporting materials—looks back to ancient customs and traditional subjects. Leave it to O’Keeffe, the leader, to be moving in the opposite direction. Tacoma Art Museum, 1701 Pacific Ave., 253-272-4258, tacomaartmuseum.org. $12–$14. 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Tues.–Sun. Ends June 7.


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