Kevin Baker Art Glass San Diego

Kevin Baker Art Glass

GlassBlowing in San Diego

My Observations on the O’Keeffe and Moore Exhibition

I recently visited this exhibition, curated by Anita Feldman, at the San Diego Museum of Art. It features two icons of modern art who have garnered much acclaim as individual artists and links them in fascinating ways. The genius of the curator is in the engaging way she demonstrates the breadth of the overlap in aesthetics, working styles, and approach to art for these two artists. The impact on me has been profound in ways that have taken me some time to process. Here are a few of the key points and observations that I took away from this show.

Henry Moore and Georgia O’Keeffe were contemporaries, but separated by geography. They were both heavily influenced by the geography of their daily life, and sought to immerse themselves in their natural surroundings in order to draw their art from it. Although the landscapes of rural England and the New Mexico desert are very different, these two artists seemed to distill similar compositional visions from nature. The work of both artists involve shapes that are organic, abstract, and irregularly symmetric, with strong elements of contrast and negative space.

Reconstructions of their two workspaces are positioned in the same room to demonstrate the similarities in their processes. They both collected found natural objects and filled their studios with them. These objects were not mere decoration, but lightning rods of inspiration for both O’Keeffe and Moore. Both were fascinated by bones, and used them as models for their art. This was made obvious by the bone inspired art from both artists that was displayed side by side for comparison.

Both artists tended to make enlargements of objects like flowers and bones in order to illuminate the haunting beauty of nature that tends to exist literally and figuratively beneath our notice. In order to make this more compelling, they both took a reductive approach, culling the distractions from the design and leaning toward abstraction in order to focus on the crux of that which drew their interest. The success of this style is that instead of rendering an exact depiction, it invites the viewer to see the subject with new insight.

This exhibition finds new viewpoints from which to take in the work of Moore and O’Keeffe, in ways that are accessible and stimulating to casual visitors as well as other artists. It has informed me in a very personal way about my own aesthetic approach, which is similar, but has been mostly unconscious. I also collect natural objects that I find fascinating. This show has inspired me to take a closer look at them in order to glean what I can of the core aspects that attract my attention. The challenge, and journey, will be to translate the resulting vision into works of art in order to communicate those ideas to others.