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McNay set to open Georgia O'Keeffe Exhibition

1973.22 O'Keeffe.jpg
Collection of the McNay Art Museum, Gift of the Estate of Tom Slick, 1973.22. © Georgia O'Keeffe Museum/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Georgia O’Keeffe, From the Plains I, 1953. Oil on canvas.
Texas Public Radio is supported by contributors to the Arts & Culture News Desk including The Guillermo Nicolas & Jim Foster Art Fund, Patricia Pratchett, and the V.H. McNutt Memorial Foundation.

The McNay Art Museum will open a new exhibit this week featuring a major American painter who is heavily associated with the southwest.

“Opening on Friday, and running through early May, we’re bringing back Georgia O'Keeffe to San Antonio. The McNay has a great tradition of celebrating O'Keeffe, which is why the McNay is very proud to count on five major paintings and works on paper by O'Keeffe, always in our holdings,” McNay’s CEO Rich Aste said.

Georgia O’Keeffe, Leaf Motif No. 2, 1924. Oil on canvas.
Georgia O’Keeffe, Leaf Motif No. 2, 1924. Oil on canvas. Collection of the McNay Art Museum, Mary and Sylvan Lang Collection, 1975.45. © Georgia O'Keeffe Museum/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Georgia O’Keeffe, Leaf Motif No. 2, 1924. Oil on canvas.

The McNay holds five pieces in its permanent collection, but this exhibit will feature several other O’Keeffe paintings on loan from nearby, and all across the nation.

“We are grateful to count on those from Austin, from the Blanton, also right here from the San Antonio Museum of Art and the Tobin Theater Arts Fund, as well as the great local collection of Harmon and Harriet Kelly,” he said. “But even loans as far afield as Houston and Detroit, San Diego and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.”

The 65-painting exhibit also covers works from others, including O’Keeffe’s sister Ida, who taught at Our Lady of the Lake University.

“But then we'll expand the narrative in this presentation to include immigrants and artists of color, LGBTQ artists and other women, like her younger sister, who helped define the modern era here in this country.”

The exhibit is called Georgia O’Keeffe and American Modernism, an era where much that had previously been assumed, was challenged.

O'Keeffe, Georgia
Georgia O’Keeffe, Summer Days, 1936. Oil on canvas. Collection of Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Calvin Klein 94.171. © Georgia O’Keeffe Museum /Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
O'Keeffe, Georgia

“It's a really exciting period we often think of today as the moment where gender norms and class and race are really being challenged and redefined,” Aste said. “But this is not a new story for our country, and at the turn of the century, at the beginning of the modern era, especially after World War I, there was a broader conversation about the future.”

Aste said even visitors with tight budgets can see the O’Keeffe exhibit.

“We're always free Thursday nights beginning at 4 o'clock thanks to H-E-B from 4 to 9 p.m.,” he said. “Typically a show like this would be part of our upcharge where the collection would be free, but a special exhibition, a very expensive exhibition to put together would require a $10 of charge even on our free nights. We made a very conscious decision to include Georgia O'Keeffe, an American modernism in the traditional collection galleries, so that it's always free.”

The McNay strongly recommends vaccinated and unvaccinated wear masks while visiting.

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Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii