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American Paintings and Sculpture
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
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Artist: Georgia O’Keeffe, American, 1887–1986

Near Alcalde, New Mexico

1931

Oil on panel

7 × 10 in. (17.8 × 25.4 cm)
Bequest of Doris M. Brixey
1984.32.21

Georgia O’Keeffe blurs the line between the natural and the man-made in this painting, using brushstrokes in beige to integrate the land and church. She depicts the east facade of the Spanish Mission Church of San Jose de Chama, in Hernandez, New Mexico, with a remarkable play of scale: the building fills the composition, implying vastness, but the panel itself is tiny. Built in the 1840s while New Mexico was part of a newly independent Mexico, the adobe church symbolizes the Catholic conversion of the region’s indigenous Pueblo people during the sixteenth century, as the architectural styles of pueblos and the Spanish colonizers blended in churches like this one. Here, O’Keeffe emphasizes the dense, baked quality of adobe with thick paint and a matte finish. Though she was raised in the Episcopal Church, as an adult the artist often infused her work with a broader spirituality that fused nature and culture.

Geography: 
Depicted Alcalde, New Mexico
Made in Taos, New Mexico, United States
Status: 
On view
Culture: 
American
Period: 
20th century
Classification: 
Paintings
Provenance: 

Doris Marguerite Brixey, to 1984; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.

Bibliography: 

Barbara Buhler Lynes, Georgia O’Keeffe: catalogue raisonne´ (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1999), 467, no. 771.

Richard B. Woodward and Barbara Buhler Lynes, Natural Affinities: Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams, exh. cat. (New York: Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, 2008), 64, ill.

Barbara Buhler Lynes and Carolyn Kastner, Georgia O’Keeffe in New Mexico: Architecture, Katsinam, and the Land, exh. cat. (Santa Fe, N.Mex.: Museum of New Mexico, 2012), pl. 16.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.