A prerequisite of studying for an MA is reflection. So much of my time is spent reflecting, that if I were to record it all, absolutely nothing would get done, but this particular thought confounds me and I want to process my reflection through my blog.
While I was researching for my presentation on the reviewers of the recent Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition at the Tate Modern, I came across the second image above. I had always assumed that the painting was just the flower in the bottom right corner, a bold but lack lustre image. I now understand why most references to the painting, including the Tate, don’t bother to include the rest of what is really a very dull image.
The two images are to scale, the top one 100 x 100 cms, the second 101 x 122 cms. Allowance obviously needs to be made for the reproduction qualities, but that said the top image was taken on a phone. I haven’t seen the second image in the flesh, but reviews refer to the artist being able to ‘neuter its potency so effectively’ (Ben Luke in the Standard), and Mark Hudson in the Telegraph calls her work ‘painfully’ minor.
The first work was not influenced by O’Keeffe, whose work does not inspire me, but happens to be part of the process I am working through and forms a useful comparison. I could have used the work of many other excellent painters.
The first work is currently for sale at £600 and someone tried to negotiate the price down by 20%. The second recently sold for $44.4m.
My MA journey is about understanding the art world. I am nearing the end of my course and still, for me, it makes no sense. The artists that inspire me, the art I am passionate about producing and experiencing, is not the art that is part of, let’s call it the O’Keeffe world (OW). Perhaps it is time for the two worlds to be officially separated with a new title for the OW, that reflects the hyped commodity trading that it is, rather than continuing to call it art. Hudson refers to the work ‘..as an encapsulation of a moment in America’s understanding of itself..’, and perhaps that is how this commodity should be viewed in general.