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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > August 2016 > Visions of the faraway

Visions of the faraway

Georgia O’Keeffe’s masterful paintings blended the Baroque with the strange, says Sarah Churchwell

In January 1923, a 35-year-old painter named Georgia O’Keeffe mounted her first major exhibition of 100 works, including oils, watercolours, pastels and drawings. One of the people who attended the opening in New York was Marcel Duchamp, whose display of a urinal he called Fountain had caused an uproar in the art world six years earlier. Duchamp approached her, O’Keeffe recalled many years later, and demanded, “But where is your self-portrait? Everyone has a self-portrait in his first show.” O’Keeffe would continue to defy expectations for the rest of her remarkable career—not only about the traditional self-absorption of the artist, but also about “his” presumptive gender.

O’Keeffe’s career had been launched in 1916, with a small exhibition of charcoal drawings at Alfred Stieglitz’s gallery 291. Precisely 100 years later, the largest exhibition of Georgia O’Keeffe’s works ever mounted in Britain will appear at the Tate Modern this summer (6th July to 30th October), following the opening of its new £260m extension and complete gallery rehang. Featuring over 100 works, the exhibition will include Jimson Weed, White Flower No 1 (1932), purchased in 2014 for $44m, the largest sum ever paid for a painting by a woman—a qualification that tells its own story. O’Keeffe’s gender has always been a focal point in a field still dominated by male artists. “Men put me down as the best woman painter,” O’Keeffe famously once said. “I think I’m one of the best painters.”

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In Prospect’s August issue: Rachel Sylvester argues that the EU referendum has started a re-alignment of British politics while Roger Scruton and Jay Elwes say that it has thrown Britain into a bout of self-examination with the fundamental question of who we are as a nation at its centre. In addition, Peter Mandelson says without reform the EU could fall victim to a populist uprising. Also in this issue: Philip Ball explores quantum entanglement, George Magnus looks at the political situation in Brazil ahead of the Olympics and Adam Mars-Jones unpicks the work of Steven Spielberg. James Cusick looks at the impact of the Chilcot report and Kathy Lette explains what the world would be like if she was in charge.