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O’Keeffe’s Desert Abstraction (Bear Lake) finds ‘forever home’ at the New Mexico Museum of Art

December 4th, 2017

(Santa Fe, NM) In honor of the New Mexico Museum of Art Centennial year celebration, the Museum of New Mexico Foundation made permanent its long-term loan of Georgia O’Keeffe’s Desert Abstraction (Bear Lake) to the Museum. With this move, the 1931 O’Keeffe piece, becomes part of the Museum of Art’s permanent collection.  The painting is currently on display in the Governor’s Residence.

“After years of loaning Georgia O’Keeffe’s Desert Abstraction (Bear Lake) to the Museum of Art, we are grateful to the Museum of New Mexico Foundation for making this exquisite piece a permanent gift,” said Mary Kershaw, Museum of Art director. “Adding this spectacular piece to our permanent collection is a privilege for the Museum of Art as we enter our second century. The painting is currently on display in the Governor’s Residence."

Georgia O’Keeffe, born in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, was a major figure in the American Modernist art movement of the early 20th century. She challenged the boundaries of modern American artistic style, synthesizing abstraction and representation, transforming her subject matter into powerful iconic images. O’Keeffe enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago and later, the Art Students League in New York City. She also worked with Arthur Wesley Dow whose influence strongly affected O’Keeffe’s thinking about the process of making art. She exhibited with other pre-eminent artists in the Avant Garde art movement in New York City at Alfred Stieglitz’ 291 Gallery. She and Stieglitz married in 1924.

After a first visit to New Mexico in 1929, she was inspired by the landscape and forms of the region, which she visited and painted from 1929 on, buying a house at Ghost Ranch in 1940, her well-known hacienda in Abiquiu in 1945, and moving to New Mexico permanently in 1949 after Stieglitz’ death. O’Keeffe is chiefly known for paintings of flowers, rocks, shells, animal bones, and landscapes. Her paintings present crisply contoured forms co-existing with subtle tonal transitions of varying colors. Although she had lost much of her central eye vision, O’Keeffe continued to paint until only weeks before her death in Santa Fe, NM in 1986.

During Georgia O’Keeffe’s early years visiting New Mexico, she perfected the images of landscape painting that she would later become well known for, and she also experimented with more personal abstract views of her surroundings.

The New Mexico Museum of Art is open 10:00AM-5:00PM, Tuesday-Sunday (Sept-May) or 10:00AM – 5:00PM 7 days a week (May-Sept).


About the New Mexico Museum of Art: --  Founded in 1917 as the Art Gallery of the Museum of New Mexico, the New Mexico Museum of Art has been presenting innovative arts programming in downtown Santa Fe for a century.  At its founding, the museum collected and exhibited artworks by noted artists from New Mexico and elsewhere. This tradition continues today with a wide array of exhibitions and a significant collection featuring work from the world’s leading artists. Today, as at its founding, the Museum of Art strives to bring the art of New Mexico to the world and the art of the world to New Mexico. Museum exhibitions and programs are supported by donors to the Museum of New Mexico Foundation and its Director’s Leadership Fund, Exhibitions Development Fund, and Fund for Museum Education. A division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs. Hours: 10 am to 5 pm daily, May through October; closed Mondays November through April, closed Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. 107 West Palace Avenue, Santa Fe, New Mexico, just off the downtown Plaza in Santa Fe, NM 87501. 24 Hr. Recorded Message: (505) 476-5072; Front desk: (505) 476-5041. Hours: 10 am to 5 pm daily, May through October; closed Mondays November through April, closed Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’sEvents, news releases and images about activities at the History Museum and Palace of the Governors and other in divisions of the Department of Cultural Affairs can be accessed at


About the Museum of New Mexico Foundation: -- Founded in 1962 by Thomas B. Catron III to providing private support for four state museums in Santa Fe, the Museum of New Mexico Foundation supports the Museum of New Mexico system through fund development for exhibitions and education programs, financial management, retail, licensing and advocacy. The establishment of the private, nonprofit Foundation launched a robust private-public partnership between the Foundation and the State of New Mexico that continues today. The Foundation serves these New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs institutions:

While the State of New Mexico funds building operations and staff salaries, “The Foundation provides a way for private funds to be directed to three vital areas of cultural support: education, collections and exhibitions,” Catron said when the Museum of New Mexico Foundation was created.  The Foundation’s mission has expanded beyond the four state museums in Santa Fe to include support for seven historic sites statewide and the Office of Archaeological Studies. Today, thousands of generous members and donors contribute to all our cultural institutions through membership, designated gifts and more. Since its inception, the Foundation has raised more than $90 million in total giving from 25,000 donors and more than 15,000 members. Our role and impact in supporting one of the country’s largest state-run museum systems remains vital to the advancement of the art, history and culture of New Mexico and the world.




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