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Georgia O’Keeffe’s ‘The Beyond’

By Susan Shinn Turner for the Salisbury Post

RALEIGH — In 1972, with her eyesight fading, Georgia O’Keeffe created her last unassisted painting, an abstract of blue and white lines above a black horizon.
“The Beyond” is the title piece in a new exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Art. “The Beyond — Georgia O’Keeffe + Contemporary Art” opened Oct. 12 and continues through Jan. 20, 2019.
It’s hard to believe that O’Keeffe — best known for her stunning, oversized paintings of flowers — started painting abstract art more than a century ago. She was so far ahead of her time that her more contemporary pieces seem brand-new.

O’Keeffe’s sculptures and abstract paintings are all a part of ‘The Beyond.’

“The Beyond” originated at the Crystal Bridges Museum of Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. Raleigh is the first stop for this traveling exhibit. Larry Wheeler, NCMA’s executive director, has always wanted to have an O’Keeffe exhibit, according to Linda Dougherty, chief curator. He retires in November after a 24-year tenure, she says, “so this was his last chance.”
The exhibit’s purpose, Dougherty says, is two-fold — to understand how innovative and important O’Keeffe is to 20th century art, and how her legacy continues to inspire artists.
Some 35 of O’Keeffe’s paintings and sculptures form the foundation of the exhibit, with an additional 20 works by artists who were inspired by O’Keeffe or who have explored similar ideas.
“She’s just very timeless,” Dougherty says of the artists. “She was an incredibly innovative, powerful artist. When you think she was doing some of this work 100 years ago, it’s shocking.”
Crystal Bridges has a number of O’Keeffe works in its collection — hence the idea for the exhibit, Dougherty says. NCMA also has an O’Keeffe painting in its permanent collection, and “Cebolla Church” is included in “The Beyond” exhibit.
Dougherty says that the exhibit has gotten great reaction. A member preview on opening day drew 2,213 patrons, one of museum’s best ever openings.
“Georgia O’Keeffe’s work lives on, and continues to have an impact,” she notes.

“The Beyond — Georgia O’Keeffe + Contemporary Art” is ticketed with “Candida Hofer in Mexico.” For tickets, visit ncartmuseum.org, or call the box office at 919-715-5923. The North Carolina Museum of Art is located at 2110 Blue Ridge Road, Raleigh.

This visitor looked right at home in front of this untitled piece by Pearl C. Hsiung.

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