Deaccessioned O’Keeffe’s head to Sotheby’s auction block this November

Deaccessioned O’Keeffe’s head to Sotheby’s auction block this November
Georgia O’Keeffe, Calla Lilies on Red, 1928. Est. $8–12 million. Courtesy Sotheby’s
Marketplace  -   Perspective

Four years after the $44.4 million sale of Georgia O’Keeffe’s painting Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 made history as the highest price paid for a work of art by a woman, Sotheby’s will offer three more paintings by O’Keeffe in November. Recently deaccessioned by the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, it was announced in early October that the trio were consigned to benefit the museum and have the potential to sell for upwards of $30 million.

A Street (1926) and Calla Lilies on Red (1928) will, for the first time, be presented as part of Sotheby’s 14 November contemporary art sale. Meanwhile, their American art auction, 2 days later, will include O’Keeffe’s 1943 Cottonwood Tree in Spring. Each painting is estimated to sell for $12-18 million, $8-12 million, and $1.5-2.5 million, respectively.

Georgia O’Keeffe’s iconic artistic vocabulary and beautiful floral themes have kept her at the forefront of American art and culture. The 2014 sell of Jimson Weed/White Flower No.1 backs O’Keeffe’s continued popularity. Head of Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Department in New York, Grégoire Billault, remarked that O’Keeffe ‘remains one of the most singular artistic voices of the last century’ in Sotheby’s statement for the inclusion of the three paintings in upcoming auctions, and it’s difficult not to agree.

The highest valued painting in this selection, A Street, is a rare break from O’Keeffe’s well-known subject matter of flowers instead picturing a New York cityscape. The oil painting is one of 20 such cityscapes painted in the 1920s shortly after O’Keeffe married Alfred Stieglitz who thought A Street might be too masculine in comparison to her other works.

Flowers became an integral part of O’Keeffe’s subject matter and she created more than 200 flower paintings between 1918 and 1932. Calla Lilies on Red (1928), therefore, does not disappoint. Beautiful white calla lilies emanate from the deep green leaves which envelop them. Set against a vibrant red background, the painting highlights O’Keeffe’s best-known motifs in a most satisfying manner. Cottonwood Tree in Spring reflects the inspiration O’Keeffe drew from the dessert landscape of New Mexico, which she visited regularly from 1929 until making it her home in 1949. The final of these three paintings shows the intimacy O’Keeffe had with her surroundings.

In a press release, Director Robert A. Kret of the O’Keeffe Museum stated the museum’s Board of Trustees carefully selected the works and that:

‘Removing an artwork from the collection is never an easy thing for any museum to do, but it is an integral part of good collections management to continually build and refine our holdings.’

The museum’s choice means opportunity for art-buyers this November. The paintings will be at the Sotheby’s Los Angeles galleries for public view on the 16th and 17th of October. Then on the 19th of October, the paintings will be at SITE131 in Dallas’s Design District to view as highlights from Sotheby’s fall auctions.