In 1924 Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986) first moved to the Shelton Hotel in New York with her husband, the photographer and art dealer Alfred Stieglitz. The Shelton was Manhattan’s earliest residential skyscraper, and its dizzying heights inspired O’Keeffe to create a powerful series of approximately twenty-five paintings and numerous drawings over a span of about five years. She called these “my New Yorks,” and they overwhelmingly consist of two types of compositions: sprawling observations looking down onto the city and humbling views directed up at the newly built urban monoliths. Exploring the New York skyline, O’Keeffe resisted the approach of contemporaries such as Charles Sheeler and Paul Strand—who celebrated New York as a streamlined, impersonal series of geometric canyons—and instead portrayed it as an amalgamation of the organic and the inorganic, the natural and the constructed. Only in this way could she express New York (in her words) “as it is felt.”
Reshaping our understanding of this pivotal yet underappreciated period in O’Keeffe’s storied career, this publication situates the New York paintings within the artist’s larger oeuvre and examines how these works reflect narratives of built environments, racialized space, and the politics of place.
Distributed for the Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute of Chicago
(June 2–September 22, 2024)
High Museum, Atlanta
(October 25, 2024–February 16, 2025)