Ida O’Keeffe: Escaping Georgia’s Shadow

The First Exhibition of the Artist’s Work in Forty Years Makes Debut at DMA

UPDATE: March 12, 2018 

Dallas, TX—May 30, 2014— The Dallas Museum of Art announced today the presentation of Ida O’Keeffe: Escaping Georgia’s Shadow, an exhibition that will premiere at the DMA as the first venue of a national tour. The exhibition will showcase for the first time approximately 40 paintings, watercolors, prints and drawings, to be supplemented with photographs of the artist taken by Alfred Stieglitz in the 1920s. Although she was an artist recognized as artistically gifted, her artistic efforts were overshadowed by those of her famous older sister, Georgia O'Keeffe.

Ida Ten Eyck O’Keeffe (1889–1961) was the third of seven O’Keeffe children and grew up in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. Both of her grandmothers and eventually two of her sisters, including Georgia, were artists. As a professionally trained artist, graduating with an MFA from Columbia in 1932, she possessed a mastery of color and dynamic composition that caught the eyes of critics, who designated her as someone to watch. These small triumphs became a source of competitive tension between Ida and Georgia, the latter of whom withheld support of her younger sister’s professional ambitions. This friction, as well as the cost of being the sister of Georgia O’Keeffe and its impact on Ida’s professional aspirations, will be an additional area of inquiry in the exhibition’s research.

“The Dallas Museum of Art has the remarkable opportunity to present for the first time a nationally touring exhibition of a ‘new’ O’Keeffe painter, lesser known but deeply talented,” said Maxwell L. Anderson, The Eugene McDermott Director of the DMA. “With the forthcoming premiere of Ida O’Keeffe: Escaping Georgia’s Shadow, Dallas is fortunate to have the rare and exciting prospect of introducing to art enthusiasts worldwide this rich new chapter in the history of American art that spanned over three decades beginning in the 1920s.”

The exhibition will bring to light the best of the known works by Ida O’Keeffe in order to consider their merits as well as their place within the aesthetics of American modernism during the 1920s and 30s.  O’Keeffe’s works of the 1920s fully fit within the overarching trend for realism of that decade; however, her paintings in the 1930s, a series of lighthouses in particular, are highly sophisticated abstracted representations most likely relying on dynamic symmetry, a compositional concept that linked art and mathematics. They reveal her as a solid artist who developed a bold, distinctive style. In the 1940s, O’Keeffe’s work took another great shift toward a regionalist aesthetic, and late works show a definite waning of power that may have mirrored her declining health and fortunes.

“When one sees the caliber of many of Ida O’Keeffe’s works, it seems incredible that she has remained relatively unknown—especially given the fame of her sister, Georgia; however, it is in the shadow cast by Georgia’s celebrity and ego that we find interesting tales of family dysfunction and sibling rivalry—as well as some seeds of Ida’s thwarted professional aspirations,” said Sue Canterbury, organizing curator of the exhibition and the DMA’s Pauline Gill Sullivan Associate Curator of American Art.

The Museum continues to conduct research on Ida O’Keeffe and would welcome any information regarding additional, unknown works by her, as well as supporting materials (e.g., correspondence, photographs and ephemera) related to the artist.

Subsequent venues and dates for a national exhibition tour will be announced at a later date. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, which will be the first publication devoted to exploring the life and work of Ida O’Keeffe.

Ida O’Keeffe: Escaping Georgia’s Shadow is organized by the Dallas Museum of Art and curated by Sue Canterbury, The Pauline Gill Sullivan Associate Curator of American Art at the Dallas Museum of Art. Air transportation provided by American Airlines.

Image: Ida O’Keeffe, Variation on a Lighthouse Theme II, c. 1933, Private Collection

About the Dallas Museum of Art
Established in 1903, the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) ranks among the leading art institutions in the country and is distinguished by its innovative exhibitions and groundbreaking educational programs. At the heart of the Museum and its programs is its global collection, which encompasses more than 22,000 works and spans 5,000 years of history, representing a full range of world cultures. Located in the vibrant Arts District of downtown Dallas, the Museum welcomes more than half a million visitors annually and acts as a catalyst for community creativity, engaging people of all ages and backgrounds with a diverse spectrum of programming, from exhibitions and lectures to concerts, literary events, and dramatic and dance presentations. In January 2013, the DMA returned to a free general admission policy and launched DMA Friends, the first free museum membership program in the country, which enrolled 50,000 members in its first year.

The Dallas Museum of Art is supported, in part, by the generosity of DMA Partners and donors, the citizens of Dallas through the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, and the Texas Commission on the Arts.