Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Demuth & O'Keeffe

Red Poppies by Charles Demuth, 1929 Metropolitan Museum of Art
"I'll paint what I see - what the flower is to me but I'll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking time to look at it - I will make even busy New Yorkers take time to see what I see of flowers."
Georgia O'Keeffe

If you can get your hands on the November 2008 issue of The Magazine Antiques, there's a great article in it about the artistic relationship & friendship between Charles Demuth and Georgia O'Keeffe: Reflections: Charles Demuth and Georgia O'Keeffe by Mark D. Mitchell. Of course, I am familiar with O'Keeffe,(although I admit not with some of the work shown in this article), but not Demuth. The article explores their friendship and how they influenced each other's work. In this day of so much emphasis on copyright issues and making original, not derivative work, it was interesting to be reminded that mingling with other artists, admiring other's work, sharing ideas and styles has not always been seen in a negative light. These are sometimes tribute to the admired artist and sometimes a bridge leading to the discovery of one's voice.

The article includes some quotations that resonate, including the one above and this one from Demuth addressing his skepticism of written descriptions' ability to replace the act of looking at a work of art:

"To me words explain too much and say too little. Paintings must be looked at and looked at and looked at - they, I think, the good ones, like it."

Both quotations speak to issues I hear being discussed among art quilters as well as artists of other mediums.


Olga said...

Thank you for pointing out this article to me. I shall try to get a copy of it because I am a huge O'Keeffe fan, and am always interested in reading critical essays.

Co-incidentally I have been thinking about the broad subject of influence ranging from the inspiration towards original work to the impulse to re-use ideas and styles in a derivative way. So the article will be doubly interesting.

The Idaho Beauty said...

Good luck - I wish at least some of the articles in this magazine were available on the internet but they are not. If you can't find the magazine, let me know and I'll pull the article to send to you.

I look forward to your ruminations on this subject - I thought your recent post interesting but I only had time to scan, want to go back and read it more thoroughly.