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O’Keeffe, Stettheimer, Torr, Zorach: Women Modernists in New York examines the art and careers of four pioneering artists and their contributions to American modernism in parallel for the first time. Through this exhibition, the PMA invites visitors to explore works by some of the most significant modernists in American art history: Georgia O’Keeffe, Marguerite Thompson Zorach, Florine Stettheimer, and Helen Torr. In presenting works by these artists together and connecting their careers in New York City, this exhibition offers valuable perspectives on the meaning of modernism, the life of a working artist in New York in the early 20th century, and the shared and differing experiences of being women at a crucial moment in first-wave feminism.
Throughout the early 20th century, artists were radically breaking with all traditions in art, inventing a new visual language that responded to the experience of living in a new century. As innovative ideas took hold in the sciences, modern artists created new ways of seeing the world through formal experiments. This exhibition examines the talents, relationships, privilege, and influences that enabled each woman to invent her own distinctive approach to modernism.
Indeed, they worked at a moment in American history when the role of women in society was changing, and each of the artists in O’Keeffe, Stettheimer, Torr, Zorach: Women Modernists in New York was conflicted about having her work categorized and defined according to gender. In grouping these artists’ careers and work together, the PMA explores the creative forces behind modernism, while highlighting the social and political contexts they shared.
While their personal and professional lives intersected in numerous ways—a few had strong friendships, others passing associations—what unites them are the contributions they made to modernism in the same city and in the same era. Through direct juxtaposition of their careers, Women Modernists in New York offers visitors rich insight into the tenacious and prolific artistic practices of O’Keeffe, Stettheimer, Torr, and Zorach, and their fiercely original contributions to American modernism.
Organized by the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida, with the support of the Portland Museum of Art, Maine.
This exhibition is made possible through the generosity of the Henry Luce Foundation and Anne Berkley Smith, as well as an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. With additional support provided by the Mr. and Mrs. Hamish Maxwell Exhibition Endowment and the Priscilla and John Richman Endowment for American Art at the Norton Museum of Art.
The PMA’s presentation is generously supported by Isabelle and Scott Black. Additional support is provided by Sheri Boulos, Martha E. Dumont through the Lily Bay Fund of the Maine Community Foundation, The Lunder Foundation – Peter and Paula Lunder Family, McCandless & Coburn LLC, Barbro and Bernard Osher, Jane Costello Wellehan and the Women of the PMA Board of Trustees. Corporate Sponsor: Bank of America. Media Sponsors: Maine Public Broadcasting Network, Portland Press Herald, and WCSH 6.
Georgia O'Keeffe (United States, 1887-1986), The White Calico Flower, 1931, oil on canvas, 30 3/16 x 36 3/16 inches. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Purchase, 32.36. Photo: ©Whitney Museum of American Art, N.Y. © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.