For 16 years, famed artist Georgia O’Keeffe spent her summers in Lake George and created over 200 paintings. Until recently, one of these paintings had only been exhibited publicly once in the past 50 years. Titled “The Barns, Lake George,” this rarely seen painting has found a new home at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, NM.
Photo Credit: The Barns, Lake George, 1926, Georgia O’Keeffe, Oil on canvas, 21 x 32 ¼ in. (53.3 x 81.9 cm.), Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, © 2016 Christie’s Images Limited
Although “The Barns, Lake George” was prominently displayed in multiple exhibitions during O’Keeffe’s lifetime, since 1946, it had mainly passed between private collectors. The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum spent $3.3 million from its acquisition fund to purchase it from a private collection.
For the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, the painting is a valuable addition to its current “My New Yorks” gallery. The gallery focuses on two significant places in O’Keeffe’s life, New York City and Lake George. “The Barns, Lake George” provides insight into the way Lake George impacted O’Keeffe’s life and art.
Born in Wisconsin, Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) was a modernist artist, and she developed a colorful and abstract style of painting. Her work got the attention of art dealer and photographer Alfred Stieglitz, whose family owned an estate just north of Lake George Village. After Stieglitz became the first to exhibit her work, the two eventually married and spent their summers together at his family’s estate.
From 1918-1934, O’Keeffe’s art career flourished, and her summers in Lake George played a huge role in her paintings. These years are regarded as the most prolific of her seven-decade career, and many paintings from this period focus on the region’s natural surroundings.
In particular, “The Barns, Lake George,” which was painted in 1926, connects two important locations in her life, her home and Lake George. The painting’s rural barns were a part of the Stieglitz estate. However, barns were always a part of O’Keeffe’s life because she grew up on a farm. According to Art Daily, O’Keeffe once said, “The barn is a very healthy part of me -there should be more of it-it is something that I know too-it is my childhood.”
O’Keeffe’s “The Barns, Lake George” isn’t the only painting of barns she created during her career, but it does reveal her constant connection to these structures. Cody Hartley, Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, told Art Daily, “This acquisition will strengthen and refine our collections…to represent the full breadth of Georgia O’Keeffe’s artistic accomplishments.”
The painting will be displayed in the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum within the next few months. If you find yourself out west, be sure to check out “The Barns, Lake George” and the museum’s growing collection!
Art Daily – Georgia O’Keeffe Museum acquires rare O’Keeffe painting
US News – Georgia O’Keeffe Museum buys artist’s rarely seen 1926 work
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum – About Georgia O’Keeffe