Black Place ll1945 by Georgia O'Keeffe

“As you come to it over a hill, it looks like a mile of elephants - grey hills all about the same size with almost white sand at their feet,” O’Keeffe wrote of the Black Place, a remote landscape that inspired her more than any other location. The paintings she made there tip geological form over the threshold of abstraction: the serried hills smashed into shards of grey and puce, bifurcated by yolk-colored cracks or spills of oily black.

Hills like elephants sounds an echo of Hemingway, and there is something of his habits of compression at work in O’Keeffe, a desire to erase everything extraneous, to convey emotion without confessing it directly. She painted very flat, making surfaces so smooth she once compared the sensation to roller-skating. The risk is blandness, but it can also produce -The Black Place, 1943, say - cleanly assembled structures that quiver with unvoiced...
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