You asked me about music. I like it better than anything in the world – color gives me the same thrill once in a long, long time… sometimes a story – or something that will call a picture to my mind – will affect me like music – Do you think we can ever get much of it in Art…

Georgia O’Keeffe

O’Keeffe: Blue and Green Music, 1919

In Blue and Green Music, O’Keeffe examines the energy of music.

To me, O’Keeffe’s painting comes across as an unusually intense form of light, almost like flames of a blue fire, beaming upwards, outwards in rhytmical waves, from a V-shaped and cohesive structure. The V-shape is both disciplined and open. Similar rhytmical elements and V-shapes return in later paintings.

Something peculiar that I noticed about this picture is that it gives a feeling of “upwards”, even if you turn it upside down and look at it.

The painting does not immediately make me associate to clouds, but more to some inner, dramatic emotion, both disciplined and wild at the same time.

A photograph of a cloud, taken by Stieglitz at the same time (his Equivalents-series), has a very similar composition as O’Keeffe’s Green and Blue Music.

The Meaning of Color

Kandinsky carefully discusses his ideas of the meaning of color in his book. O’Keeffe obviously had her own palette, and she was probably inspired by Kandinsky, to make it that, her own. Perhaps O’Keeffe tried to bring forth her own visual symphony in this image, perhaps inspired by classical music. Kandinsky equals the light blue color to the sounds of a flute; dark blue means chello and an even darker blue would be an organ.

A painter, who finds no satisfaction in mere representation, however artistic, in his longing to express his inner life, cannot but envy the ease with which music, the most non-material of the arts today, achieves this end. He naturally seeks to apply the methods of music to his own art.

Wassily Kandinsky


Alfred Stieglitz (1864–1946) and American Photography


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