About This Artwork

Georgia O'Keeffe
American, 1887–1986

The Shelton with Sunspots, N.Y., 1926

Oil on canvas
123.2 × 76.8 cm (48 1/2 × 30 1/4 in.)
Signed, titled, and dated on label on reverse

Gift of Leigh B. Block, 1985.206

© 2018 Georgia O'Keeffe Museum/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

“I went out one morning to look at [the Shelton Hotel] and there was the optical illusion of a bite out of one side of the tower made by the sun, with sunspots against the building and against the sky,” said Georgia O’Keeffe, recalling the precise moment that inspired her to paint The Shelton with Sunspots. Although her depictions of flowers and the southwestern landscape are powerful and evocative, O’Keeffe painted a group of cityscapes in the 1920s that are no less intriguing. She married the photographer and dealer Alfred Stieglitz in 1924, and the following year they moved into the Shelton, a recently completed skyscraper. O’Keeffe was fascinated by the soaring height of the building and emphasized its majesty in this painting by rendering it from the street below. In the glaring light of the emerging sun, the building becomes an abstracted series of rectangles arranged in the center of the composition. Yet the hard edges of the Shelton are softened by the numerous circular sunspots and wavy, flowing lines of smoke and steam, suggesting that despite her urban subject matter, O’Keeffe nevertheless sought to unify man-made and organic forms, just as she would in her southwestern paintings such as Black Cross, New Mexico .

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

New York, The Intimate Gallery, 1927, as The Shelton, New York No. II.

New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Georgia O’Keeffe, October 8-November 29, 1970, no. 49, cat. by Lloyd Goodrich and Doris Bry; traveled to the Art Institute of Chicago, January 1-February 7, 1971; San Francisco Museum of Art, March 15-April 30, 1971.

Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Works by Living Artists From the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Leigh B. Block, February 11-April 9, 1978, no. 1.

Washington D.C., National Gallery of Art, Georgia O'Keefe: Art and Letters, November 1, 1987-February 21, 1988; traveled to Art Institute of Chicago, March 5-June 19, 1988; Dallas Museum of Art, July 31-October 16, 1988; Metropolitan Museum of Art, November 19, 1988-February 5, 1989, cat. 57.

The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C., Two Lives: O'Keeffe and Stieglitz, December 12, 1992-April 4, 1993, traveled to IBM Gallery of Science and Arts, New York, April 27-June 26, 1993, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, July 17-September 12, 1993, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, October 2-December 5, 1993. (Washington D.C., New York, and Minneapolis only).

Nationalgalerie Berlin, George Grosz: Berlin-New York, December 21, 1994-April 17, 1995, no. 111.3; traveled to Dusseldorf, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, May 6-July 30, 1995.

Santa Fe, Georgia O’Keefe Museum, Views of the City: 1910s-1940s, November 14, 2000-March 14, 2001.

Kunsthaus Zurich, Georgia O'Keeffe, October 23, 2003-February 1, 2004.

Brooklyn Museum of Art, Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties, October 28, 2011-January 22, 2012; traveled to Dallas Museum of Art, February 24-May 27, 2012; Cleveland Museum of Art, July 1-September 16, 2012.

Florida, West Palm Beach, O'Keeffe, Stettheimer, Torr, Zorach: Women Modernists in New York, February 18-May 15, 2016; travels to Maine, Portland Museum of Art, June 23-September 18, 2016 (West Palm Beach only) cat.56.

Publication History

Georgia O’Keeffe (New York Press, A Studio Book, 1976), no. 18

Edgar Kaufmann, Jr., “The Inland Steel Building and Its Art,” Art In America (Winter 1957-1958), p. 25.

Susan F. Cohn, “An Analysis of Selected Works by Georgia O’Keeffe and a Production of Drawings by the Researcher Relating to the Work of the Artists Studied,” (Ph.D. diss., New York University, 1974), pp. 93-95, 98- 105

Art Institute of Chicago Mosaic, September/October 1985, p. 8 ill.

Barbara Buhler Lynes, "Georgia O'Keeffe: Catalogue Raisonné," (National Gallery of Art/Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation/Yale University Press, 1999) no. 527 (vol. 1).

“A Vibrant New York as O’Keeffe Framework,” The Santa Fe New Mexican, Wednesday, November 22, 2000, ill.

“Exhibition Follows rise of American Artistic Vision,” The Sunday Journal, Albuquerque, November 26, 2000, p. F3, ill.

“Group Show Views Of The City: 1910s-1940s,” THE Magazine, December/January, 2000, p. 57 ill.

“A Stieglitz View of the City,” Venue North-Journal North, Friday, November 17, 2000, p. 6 ill.

Judith A. Barter, “Designing for Democracy: Modernism and Its Utopias,” Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 27, 2 (2001), pp. 6-17, fig. 4.

Judith A. Barter et al., "American Modernism at the Art Institute of Chicago, From World War I to 1955," (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2009), cat.

Charles C. Eldredge, Betsy Fahlman, Randall R. Griffey, "Decades: An Expanded Context for Western American Art," 1900-1940, vol. 9, Western Passages (Denver Art Museum, 2014) (ill.).

Tanya Barson, ed. "Georgia O'Keeffe" exh. cat. (Tate Publishing, 2016) fig. 4.

Ownership History

The Intimate Gallery, New York. Alma Moranthau Wertheim, New York, 1927; by descent to Anne Wertheim Werner, New York, by 1946. The Downtown Gallery, New York. Leigh B. Block, Chicago, Ill., by 1957; given to the Art Institute, 1957.

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