On 14 November, Sotheby’s will present A Street (1926) and Calla Lillies on Red (1928) by Georgia O’Keeffe in a Contemporary Art Evening Auction for the first time. The stunning Cottonwood Tree in Spring (1943) will also be featured at the American Art Auction, taking place on 16 November.
Succeeding the sale of Georgia O’Keeffe’s iconic flower painting Jimson Weed/White Flower No.1 (1932), Sotheby’s will again be offering significant works by the modernist artist to benefit the Acquisitions Fund of the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
In May 2014, Sotheby’s sold Jimson Weed/White Flower No.1 for an incredible $44.4 million and set a withstanding world auction record for any work by a female artist.
This week, three more sensational O’Keeffe paintings will be offered to the world—they have been on public view at Sotheby’s Los Angeles galleries (16 and 17 October) and at SITE131 in Dallas’ Design District (19 October).
The full Contemporary Art and American Art sales opened for exhibition in Sotheby’s New York Galleries on 2 November.
Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction will star:
A Street (1926)
Estimate: $12-18 million
Measuring 48 ⅛ by 29 ⅞ inches, oil on canvas, A Street exists as one of the most commanding works from a series of New York cityscapes that O’Keeffe created between 1925 and 1929.
Following her marriage to the influential photographer and gallerist Alfred Stieglitz in 1924, O’Keeffe took an interest in the skyscraper whilst observing the construction of the Shelton Hotel in Midtown Manhattan—a building the couple later moved into. The buildings identified in her powerful, 20-work cityscapes series were all found within walking distance of the Shelton.
When O’Keeffe pursued her preoccupation with the ambivalence of urban life, she also ignored Stieglitz’s cautions against what he considered a man’s topic. In glaring contrast to the artist’s popular abstractions and flowers, the series went on to serve as an inspiration for Joan Mitchell’s rebellious cityscapes from the early 1950s—beginning a revolt against the conventional hyper-masculinity of Abstract Expressionism.
Calla Lilies on Red (1928)
Estimate: $8-12 million
Oil on canvas and measuring 32 ⅛ by 17 ⅛ inches, Calla Lilies on Red—one of more than 200 flower paintings that O’Keeffe created between 1918 and 1932—is surely a depiction of the artist’s ideal motif.
O’Keeffe depicted the calla lily eight times in this period and the painting on offer demonstrates a subject and form that now defines her most celebrated work. The flower’s delicate, vertical form is emphasised through an elongated picture plane. Contrasting hues of vibrant reds and greens dramatically outline the simple elegance of the white petals.
The American Art Auction will later feature another O’Keeffe work.
Cottonwood Tree in Spring (1943)
Estimate: $1.5-2.5 million
Thirty by 36 inches and oil on canvas, Cottonwood Tree in Spring is an example of the inspiration O’Keeffe took from the American southwest. O’Keeffe visited New Mexico regularly from 1929—when she left New York for a summer away from city life.
The beauty of the landscape aided O’Keeffe’s imagination as well as her personal and artistic growth. Continuing to explore its visual imagery for the rest of her life, she made Abiquiu her permanent home in 1949. This work evokes a spiritual and abstract connection to the area.
Cody Hartley, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum’s senior director, Collections and Interpretation, said: ‘A Street, Calla Lilies on Red and Cottonwood Tree in Spring represent some of O’Keeffe’s most beloved subjects.
‘They are bold, strong, wonderful paintings that epitomize everything that made Georgia O’Keeffe a master of American Modernism.’
‘Georgia O’Keeffe remains one of the most singular artistic voices of the last century—nothing looks like an O’Keeffe—and the diversity of this particular group of paintings touches upon the breadth and depth of her iconic career,’ added Grégoire Billault, head of Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Department in New York.
‘Her images are not only an essential part of American culture, but are now appreciated on an international stage among the great works of her time.
‘We are thrilled to present these superb paintings in a new and wider context this November, sparking dialogues between O’Keeffe’s work and that of artists spanning the 20th and 21st centuries. It is a great privilege for Sotheby’s to work with the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum again this fall.’
The Georgia O’Keefe Museum opened in 1997 with the mission of ‘preserving, presenting and advancing the artistic legacy of Georgia O’Keeffe and Modernism through innovative public engagement, education and research.’ O’Keeffe’s two New Mexico homes are counted as part of its extended collection.
Robert A. Kret, Director of the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, said: ‘Museum leadership, with the endorsements of the donors and board of trustees, selected these works to de-accession after very careful and thoughtful consideration.
‘Removing an artwork from the collection is never an easy thing for any museum to do, but it is an integral part of good collections.’