O’Keeffe, Preston, Cossington Smith: Making Modernism’ showcases the iconic art of Georgia O’Keeffe, one of the most significant American painters of the twentieth century, alongside modernist masterpieces by the celebrated and pioneering Australian artists, Margaret Preston and Grace Cossington Smith.
Born in the late nineteenth century, the three painters came of age during the 1910s and ’20s, decades of great social and cultural transition. While they were not connected by personal familiarity or direct correspondence, they were kindred spirits, rejecting the artistic conventions of the past and forging new ways of picturing the changing world.
United by their love of nature, O’Keeffe, Preston and Cossington Smith developed subjects from their immediate surroundings into distinct interpretations of place. O’Keeffe synthesised the forms and lines of the New Mexico high desert to share her experience of its vast and ancient landscape, while Preston articulated the primordial character of the native environment in her pursuit of a uniquely Australian aesthetic. Cossington Smith painted glowing and intimate landscapes based on views within easy reach of her semi-rural home in Sydney’s outer suburbs.
Each artist transformed the traditional still life into a pictorial vehicle more relevant to the modern age. Whereas O’Keeffe filled her compositions from edge to edge with magnified and abstracted blooms, Preston looked to the structural possibilities of her floral motifs, focusing on design and pattern. Cossington Smith preferred to paint her plants and blossoms as they grew in situ, lending her images a sense of living energy.
‘Making Modernism’ draws together around thirty works by each artist from the breadth of their careers and is presented in partnership with the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe; Heide Museum of Modern Art and the Art Gallery of New South Wales and supported by the Terra Foundation for American Art and the Gordon Darling Foundation.
O’Keeffe, Preston, Cossington Smith: Making Modernism Exhibition
11 March 2017 – 11 June 2017
QAG – Brisbane