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Conversation: Impossible Ideas—Georgia O’Keeffe and Aaron Douglas Envision the City

Thurs, Aug 15 | 6:00–7:00



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Left: Aaron Douglas. Dust jacket of Claude McKay, Home to Harlem (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1928).

Right: Georgia O’Keeffe. Radiator Building—Night, New York, 1927. Alfred Stieglitz Collection, co-owned by Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee, and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. © Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.

Join curator Sarah Kelly Oehler and professor Adrienne Brown for a conversation on Georgia O’Keeffe and Aaron Douglas, two painters who spent the 1920s approaching the “impossible idea” of making the city their subject. 

Initially doubted for their ambitious goals, O’Keeffe, an early career American Modernist living in one of Manhattan’s first residential skyscrapers, and Douglas, a major social realist artist of the Harlem Renaissance, confronted the challenge and envisioned the city through their distinctive lenses.

About the Speakers


Adrienne Brown is Associate Professor in the Departments of English and Race, Diaspora, and Indigeneity at the University of Chicago. She is the co-editor with Valerie Smith of Race and Real Estate (2015) and the author of The Black Skyscraper: Architecture and the Perception of Race (2017), winner of the 2018 First Book Prize from the Modernist Studies Association; and The Residential Is Racial: A Perceptual History of Mass Homeownership (2024).

Oehler Sarah Headshot 2024 Web

Sarah Kelly Oehler is the Field-McCormick Chair and Curator, Arts of the Americas, and Vice President of Curatorial Strategy at the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2018, Oehler co-curated the critically acclaimed exhibition Charles White: A Retrospective. Among her numerous contributions to other exhibitions and publications is a recent essay on Georgia O’Keeffe’s 1943 retrospective at the Art Institute for the digital publication Exhibiting O’Keeffe: The Making of an American Modernist (Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, 2023).

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Closed captioning will be available for this program. For questions related to accessibility accommodations, please email


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