The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997 Page: 106
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
in 1918, is an outstanding example of O'Keeffe's investigation of pure
form and color at a pivotal period in her career. The painting's nonrep-
resentational subject consists of a central unfurling shape surrounded by
patches of arcs of swirling color, executed in a lush palette of still-pris-
tine coral, magenta, and turquoise. One of about twelve paintings com-
prising O'Keeffe's Series I (1918-1919), the Carter's painting is the only
example of this important series in an American public collection.
Born near Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, O'Keeffe had studied at the Art Insti-
tute of Chicago (1905-1906), the Art Students League in New York
(1907-1908), the University of Virginia (summer 1912), and Teachers
College, Columbia University (1914-1915; 1916). She taught art in Amar-
illo (1912-1914), the University of Virginia (summers 1913-1916), and
Columbia College in Columbia, South Carolina (1915-1916). In the fall
of 1916, she moved to Canyon, Texas, to head the art department at West
Texas State Normal College. O'Keeffe's intense response to the Texas
landscape, with its vast prairies and dramatic skies, was translated into col-
or abstractions such as the Amon Carter Museum's series of three water-
colors titled Light Coming on the Plains (1917).
Even more abstract than the Texas works that preceded it, Series I
paintings define form through color alone. The expressive shapes re-
flect O'Keeffe's interest in translating aural phenomena into visual
terms. Despite her reputation for being an instinctual artist, O'Keeffe
was steeped in art theory. By 1915, she had read Wassily Kandinsky's On
the Spiritual in Art twice. Kandinsky (1866-1944) was among the influen-
tial art theorists of the time-O'Keeffe's teacher Arthur Wesley Dow was
another--who explored the parallels between nonrepresentational mu-
sical forms and abstract art. O'Keeffe, who played the violin as another
expression of her innermost feelings, believed form and color were the
"pure" tools of the artist just as sound and rhythm were for the musician.
O'Keeffe retained Series I, No. I in her own collection until 1985,
when she sold the work to a private collector from whom the Museum
acquired it. In addition to the three Texas watercolors, the Museum also
owns four other oil paintings by O'Keeffe: Red Cannas (1927), Dark Mesa
and Pink Sky (1930), Ranchos Church, Taos, New Mexico (1930), and Black
Patio Door (1955).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997, periodical, 1997; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101218/m1/134/: accessed January 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.