In Music – Pink and Blue I, O’Keeffe has used airy pastel tones from her oil palette to create those undulating, soft but crisp, white, pink and orange forms framing an oval opening in blue.

Music: Pink and Blue No.1, 1919. Oil on canvas, 48 x 30 in. (121.9 x 76.2 cm).

The motif appears to be pure abstraction, but according to Peters it was actually based on a seashell.

Hoffman gets associations from the sounds of the ocean. The blue opening and the softly vibrating forms of pale, organic folds surrounding them, express vibrations in the soul, in the same way Kandinsky advocated.

Peters claims that her use of tightly cut images was natural, since Stieglitz photographed the same kinds of close-ups of her body during this time. Also O’Keeffe was trained in Japanese art through her teacher Dow, where motifs are pushing the frame.O’Keeffe: Red and Orange hills, 1938

I have not found any painting later by the name Music, but several of her later paintings still express this musical feeling, for example Red and Orange Hills of 1938.

First Solo Show

O’Keeffe’s first large separate show was introduced 1923 as One Hundred Pictures: Oils, Water-colors, Pastels, Drawings by Georgia O’Keeffe, American, by Stieglitz at Anderson Galleries. The show lasted for two weeks, was visited by 500 people each day, and she sold art for 3000 dollars, a considerable sum of money at the time.

Nine respected critics were lyrical. Herbert J. Seligmann celebrated O’Keeffe for her ‘original use of color music’ and Paul Rosenfeld, the music critic, was ecstatic:

Through O’Keeffe, polyharmonies of the compositions of Stravinsky and of Leo Ornstein seem to have begotten sisters in the sister art of painting… She appears to have a power, like the composers, of creating deft, subtle, intricate chords and of concentrating two such complexes with all the oppositional power of two simple complementary colors…

Few have dared place a sharp triad based on green as this American… Oblique, close harmonies are found throughout her work; to them are due much of its curious, biting, pungent savor… Dazzling white is set against tones of pearl; arctic green against the hues of tropical vegetation; violet abuts upon fruity tomato-orange.

It is as though O’Keeffe felt the same great width between minor seconds that Leo Ornstein, say, perceives.

Paul Rosenfeld, music critic


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