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O’Keeffe, Preston, Cossington Smith: making modernism opens at AGNSW

Major body of O’Keeffe work to come to Australia for the first time

Grace Cossington Smith Landscape at Pentecost 1929 Art Gallery of South Australia
South Australian Government Grant 1981 © Estate of Grace Cossington Smith

‘This gorgeous show is a slow burner. Think you know the grand old Australian dames? Expect no surprises from O’Keeffe? Think again.’Julie Ewington, The Monthly

Opening at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, O’Keeffe, Preston, Cossington Smith: making modernism, features iconic works of trailblazing modernist artists, American Georgia O’Keeffe and Australian artists Margaret Preston and Grace Cossington Smith.

O’Keeffe, Preston, Cossington Smith: making modernism is presented by the Art Gallery of NSW, Heide Museum of Modern Art and the Queensland Art Gallery in partnership with the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe. The Art Gallery of NSW is the final Australian destination for this ground breaking multi-venue exhibition which draws together around 30 works by each artist from the breadth of their careers.

Cody Hartley, senior director, collections and interpretation at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, said the Museum is thrilled to partner with the Art Gallery of NSW, Heide Museum of Modern Art and the Queensland Art Gallery to offer the largest survey of O’Keeffe’s work to visit Australia.

“We are proud to be supporting this exhibition, offering exceptional works from the Museum’s collection to facilitate this innovative study of global modernism via the parallels of O’Keeffe’s work with her Australian peers,” Hartley said.

Making modernism explores how O’Keeffe, Preston and Cossington Smith collectively embraced modernism to breathe new life into the time-honoured genres of landscape and still life. Despite leading separate lives and geographical distance, these three artists each strove to develop bold and original styles based on their local environment and culture.

Dr Michael Brand, director, Art Gallery of NSW said Making modernism offers fresh perspectives on these three extraordinary artists from both sides of the Pacific and the globe-crossing currents of modern art in the making.

“Preston and Cossington Smith, like O’Keeffe in the United States, have long been recognised for their central role in the development of modern art in Australia, as they championed a new way of picturing the world during the transformative decades of the early twentieth century,” Dr Brand said.

Rejecting artistic conventions of the past, these three artists linking New York, Santa Fe and Sydney became trailblazers of a shared modernist vision that embodied vivid colour, light, vitality and optimism,” Dr Brand added.

The exhibition is accompanied by the publication O’Keeffe, Preston, Cossington Smith: making modernism. Featuring a selection of wondrous images and engaging and enlightening essays, the book explores the distinct contributions made by O’Keeffe, Preston and Cossington Smith to the movement of modernism throughout their prolific careers.

The Art Gallery of NSW presents a series of events in association with Making modernism including a panel discussion on modernism featuring the exhibition’s curators: Denise Mimmocchi, senior curator of Australian art at the Gallery; Lesley Harding, curator at Heide Museum of Modern Art; Dr Carolyn Kastner, curator at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum; and Dr Cody Hartley, senior director, collections and interpretation at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.

On offer as part of Art After Hours at the Gallery are two free celebrity talks, with architect Penelope Seidler and artist Cressida Campbell, reflecting on the modernist era and its enduring impact on Sydney.

The Gallery provides introductory talks, guided tours and audio-description tours for blind or vision impaired visitors to the exhibition. Making modernism also has a tailored children’s trail to explore the exhibition and offers free associated artmaking activities for families from 10-14 and 16 July 2017.

Making modernism is generously supported by the Terra Foundation for American Art, the Gordon Darling Foundation and the Art Gallery Society of NSW.

About the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum was established in 1997 to preserve and advance the artistic legacy of Georgia O’Keeffe. The Museum is dedicated to developing appreciation of O’Keeffe’s remarkable oeuvre both nationally and internationally through exhibitions that provide new scholarship on her practice.

Media contact

Kamal Rana
Tel 02 9225 1606
kamal.rana@ag.nsw.gov.au