About This Artwork

Georgia O'Keeffe
American, 1887–1986

Ballet Skirt or Electric Light, 1927

Oil on canvas
91.4 x 76.2 cm (36 x 30 in.)
Signed and dated verso: G. O'Keeffe / Aug.--Sept. / 1927 / --

Alfred Stieglitz Collection, bequest of Georgia O'Keeffe, 1987.250.1

© The Art Institute of Chicago

While living in New York in 1914–15, Georgia O’Keeffe was exposed to European modernism through exhibitions of the works of Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and others at Alfred Stieglitz’s gallery 291, and she developed her own organic style of abstraction in response. In the 1920s Georgia O’Keeffe began creating the paintings of enlarged flowers for which she is most famous. In 1927 she produced a series of works devoted to the white rose; this picture is her most abstracted depiction of the subject. O’Keeffe simplified the energy of the blooming rose down to its essence, so that it resembles a brilliant light radiating out of flat Cubist planes. She exhibited this painting as White Rose—Abstraction at Alfred Stieglitz’s Intimate Gallery in 1928. She retitled it Ballet Skirt or Electric Light (from the White Rose Motif) when she lent it to the Art Institute’s 1943 retrospective of her work.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

New York, Intimate Gallery, "O'Keeffe Exhibition," January 11–February 27, 1927, cat. 18, as "White Rose--Abstraction."

Art Institute of Chicago, "Retrospective Exhibition of Paintings by Georgia O'Keeffe," January 21-February 22, 1943, as "Ballet Skirt or Electric Light,"

Berlin, Martin-Gropius-Bau, "American Art in the 20th Century: Painting and Sculpture, 1913-1993," May 8-July 25, 1993; traveled to London, Royal Academy of Arts, September 16-December 12, 1993 (Berlin only).

Washington DC, Phillips Collection, "Georgia O'Keeffe: the Poetry of Things," April 17-July 18, 1999; traveled to Santa Fe, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, August 7-October 17, 1999; Dallas Museum of Art, November 7, 1999-January 30, 2000; Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, February 19-May 14, 2000 (Washington DC only) as "Abstraction: White Rose."

Whitney Museum of American Art, "Georgia O'Keeffe: Abstraction," September 17, 2009-January 17, 2010; traveled to Washington DC, Phillips Collection, February 6-May 9, 2012; Santa Fe, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, May 28-September 12, 2010 (New York only).

Publication History

Barbara Buhler Lynes, "Georgia O'Keeffe: Catalogue Raisonné," (National Gallery of Art/Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation/Yale University Press, 1999) no. 601 (vol. 1).

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. 50.

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