University of Rochester

Georgia O’Keeffe: Color & Conservation

The Memorial Art Gallery is one of only three venues in the country selected to host—and the final stop for—a major exhibition of works by an American master from October 1 to December 31.
Georgia O'Keeffe exhibition

The picture is easy to imagine: Georgia O’Keeffe, living in the small town of Abiquiu, New Mexico, grinding her own pigments to achieve a certain subtlety of color for one of her iconic oil paintings.

As the new exhibition Georgia O’Keeffe: Color and Conservation—which opens at the Memorial Art Gallery on October 1—makes clear, O’Keeffe paid meticulous attention to such details. The exhibition, which includes 25 rarely seen oil paintings and two pastels, is the first to focus on O’Keeffe’s painstaking choice of color, her studio methods, and her involvement in the conservation of her work.


Georgia O’Keeffe is not the only American artist getting special attention at the Memorial Art Gallery.
From October 24 to December 24, the gallery also is hosting the exhibition My America: Art from The Jewish Museum Collection, 1900–1955. Rescheduled from last fall, the traveling exhibition includes 73 works by 40 American-Jewish artists who explore their reactions to unprecedented freedoms and harsh economic and political realities. The exhibition is organized into five sections: “Becoming American,” “Striving for Social Justice,” “Picturing Ourselves,” “Reacting to Tragedy,” and “Moving Toward Abstraction.”

And in July, the gallery published its first catalog of its American collection. Seeing America: Painting and Sculpture from the Collection of the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester examines 82 objects and their connections to American history, culture, literature, and politics.

The book includes 73 essays by gallery scholars and outside authorities who explore works by some of America’s best-known artists, among them Thomas Cole, Winslow Homer, John Sloan, George Bellows, Georgia O’Keeffe, Jacob Lawrence, and Andy Warhol. Marjorie Searl, the gallery’s chief curator, served as editor-in-chief of the catalog.

The 336-page, coffee-table book is available in hardcover ($65) or softcover ($40) from the Gallery Store by calling (585) 473-7720, ext. 3057.

The gallery is the last of three museums in the country to host the exhibition that was inspired, in part, by newly available correspondence between O’Keeffe and her conservator. Organized by independent O’Keeffe scholar Sarah Whitaker Peters and René Paul Barilleaux, curator at the McNay Art Museum and former director of the Mississippi Art Museum, the show spent the summer at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

“Georgia O’Keeffe is one of the iconic figures in the history of American art, and this particular exhibition reflects the depth and breadth of her career,” says Grant Holcomb, director of the gallery.

The extent of O’Keeffe’s perfectionist labors—and her constant experiments to better her craft—were documented in her 30-year correspondence with conservator Caroline Keck. Selections from those letters are reproduced in the exhibition’s catalog for the first time.

The exhibition also includes photographs of O’Keeffe on loan from the International Museum of Photography and Film at George Eastman House in Rochester.