Washington, DC

“Georgia O'Keeffe: The Poetry of Things”

The Phillips Collection

Lee Krasner, watching Georgia O’Keeffe on television in the Perry Miller Adato documentary, sarcastically remarked, “She comes on like Shirley Temple.” Of course, neither Krasner nor O’Keeffe could legitimately be compared to little tap-dancing Shirley, curls bobbing up and down the screen, dimpled smile never dimming. Krasner and O’Keeffe were both tough women. Indeed, the durable hardness of O’Keeffe’s persona, accurately symbolized by the animal bones and rocks of her Western landscape, contrasts with the fragility of her most widely admired subjects, the flowers she painted for most of her life.

The catalogue essays accompanying “The Poetry of Things” hope to free O’Keeffe from the lady-flower-painter category by matching her aesthetic principles to those of her male colleagues, among them Arthur Dove and Charles Demuth, who also painted flowers. The exhibition title further stresses

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