Two new museum shows that juxtapose the seemingly innocent or beautiful with deeper chords of meaning will be on exhibit in early February.
Marsden Hartley and the West: The Search for American Modernism opens January 25th at the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum. Organized by Heather Hole, O'Keeffe's assistant curator, the exhibition repositions Hartley's work in New Mexico as pivotal in his career and in the development of American Modernism.
Hartley painted New Mexico repeatedly from 1918 - 1924, first living in Taos and Santa Fe, then returning from New York and, once again, Europe. Hartley's initial bright pastels, drawn from nature would, according to Hole, "purify him and his work in an attempt to develop an original, uniquely American style." Like many artists after the devastation of World War I, Hartley's attempts to clarify identity both personal and national belied his experience.
The stark landscapes of New Mexico followed him and provided a vehicle to explore distance and loss. The New Mexico Recollections series (of which 21 are in the exhibition) were painted in Berlin in 1923. "These extraordinary works," claims Hole, "are among the most complex and multi-layered depictions of the American landscape produced between the wars. When taken as a whole the"¦ Recollections depict a landscape of memory and fantasy, closer to a dreamscape than the kind of concrete imagery depicted in earlier New Mexico pastels."
Hartley's ability to infuse landscape with emotional weight combines the traditions of other New England painters like Winslow Homer with the painter's contemporary Expressionist language.
Flower Power: A Subversive Botanical opens On February 1st at the New Mexico Museum of Art. Like the New Mexico landscape, the single petal daisy appears at first as a thin descriptor, an innocent symbol and symbol of innocence. In Flower Power, however, the daisy "seems to resurface whenever communal hopes and desires appear to have been abandoned."
The opening salvo of the show is the photograph of a Kent state student placing a daisy in the muzzle of a National Guardsman's rifle. This image provides poignant testimony of a generation's argument to make love, not war; to combat violence with intentionally naïve acts and beliefs. By changing the grounds on which one argues, the terms of engagement necessarily shift.
The daisy is quickly taken up across high and low culture from Marimmekko prints to Andy Warhol silkscreens, from song, "Where have all the Flowers Gone?" to Corita Kent's Crazy Enough.
Cut to the last decade. Daisies once again spring up across the culture from Takashi Murakami flower - motif consumer products to Erika Wanenmacher's sublime Stealth Painting (The Bombing of Baghdad). Tim Jag revisits the fortune-telling pastime of (s)he loves me, (s)he loves me not while Polly Apfelbaum refers to the daisy's graphic capability in large prints.
As the title of a Beat poem that morphed into a 1959 underground film classic, this exhibition Pull(s) My Daisy.
Georgia O'Keeffe Museum
217 Johnson Street
Santa Fe, NM 87501
New Mexico Museum of Art
107 West Palace Avenue
Santa Fe, NM 8750
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