In just a few weeks, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) will open its newest exhibition with three separate shows in each gallery. One of those has already sent a buzz through Denver, an exhibition featuring Georgia O’Keeffe. Though only eight of her paintings will be showcased, the show is also about her influence on other painters and contemporary painting in general. Opening February 14 (though the opening reception is sold out) and on view until May 26, Aftereffect: Georgia O’Keeffe and Contemporary Painting offers a view of the famous painter as an innovator and pioneer.
Don’t go to the MCA expecting to see O’Keeffe’s “Santa Fe” style of work. Paintings of hers that used the New Mexican scenery as inspiration are beautiful and meaningful, but the point of the exhibition is to amass an idea of O’Keeffe not as a landscape painter but as a pivotal person in the modern abstraction movement. Although the “Santa Fe” style is mainly what she is known for, her body of work during her lifetime presented new uses of space, framing and other compositional tactics that are widely used today. Aftereffect was influenced by the Whitney Museum of American Art’s exhibition Georgia O’Keeffe: Abstraction. Part of Whitney’s exhibition was focusing on how O’Keeffe formed and participated in a style of modernism that, though it was at roughly the same time as Jackson Pollock and some of the Abstract Expressionists, distinguished itself apart from those artists.
The MCA’s version of an O’Keeffe retrospective won’t only show O’Keeffe paintings — it will demonstrate how her style continues to inform modern and contemporary painters. The other artists displaying work (inspired by O’Keeffe) are Jeffrey Gibson, Mary Heilmann, Emily Joyce, Matt Connors, Carrie Moyer, Mary Weatherford, Lesley Vance, Corey Drieth, Loie Hollowell, Gretchen Marie Schaefer, Leslie Smith III and Melissa Thorne.