New-York Botanical Garden, New-York City, NY October 15, 2018 25 Photos

One of modern art most iconic and prolific artists, Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986), traveled from New-York to Hawaii in 1939 on behalf of Hawaiian Pineapple Company, who commissioned the artist to paint advertisements. For the American modernist painter, already prominent at the time, the commission presented itself as an opportunity to explore yet new surroundings. O’Keeffe’s series of paintings is a captivating collection. Colorful and lush, the works of saturated pastels of tropical flowers serve as an ode to the rich, complex, and enduring beauty of the Hawaiian islands.

Capturing the vibrant esoteric hues of the landscape, O’Keeffe renders the vegetation, its structural complexity and forms, through light and airy brushstrokes. Pieces such as Hibiscus with Plumeria (1939) in bright yellow and light pink hues with blue undertones showcases O’Keeffe’s iconic style of stark enlarged flowers. The exhibition captures the delicate compositions and impressions of nature as well as the long lasting influence of the Hawaiian landscape imprinted on the artist.

"Maybe the new place enlarges one’s world a little. Maybe one takes one’s own world along and cannot see anything else"

(Georgia O’Keeffe, excerpts from Artist’s statement, 1940)

Delighted by the novel surroundings, O’Keeffe immersed herself in the gardens of Hawaii, populated by tropical flowers which she described in one of letters as “perfectly fantastic”. The paintings represent her close study of different vegetation species; her innovative depictions are consistent with her modern style, the lush renderings showcasing her strong connection to any given landscape.

"If my painting is what I have to give back to the world for what the world gives to me, I may say that these paintings are what I have to give at present for what… Hawaii gave to me."

(Georgia O’Keeffe, excerpts from Artist’s statement, 1940)

"Many things are so beautiful that they don’t seem real."

(Georgia O’Keeffe, writing from Honolulu. Hawaii, 1939)

O’Keeffe’s unique ability to convey a distinct sense of place and connection to the landscape translates in thoughtful silhouettes, transporting the viewer to vibrant spaces of island life. Accompanying the exhibit is a flower show in the Haupt Conservatory with a plethora of tropical plants that inspired O’Keeffe on her expedition.