Red sunrise

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“Sunrise” by Georgia O’Keefe. Featured in the exhibit Dove/O’Keefe: Circles of Influence at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass. The exhibit traces the mutual influence and development of early American abstract painter Arthur Dove and the very famous Georgia O’Keefe.

O’Keefe’s work is usually perceived to have sensual overtones (all those unfurling flowers) but there is also a naively, viscerally joyful quality to her work as well. Dove’s work, too, speaks to me of a certain joyful spirit as well, particularly this painting.

To me, the aesthetics of joy really come alive in abstraction. Removed from clear representation, emotion is carried by color, form, texture, light, and gesture. If the artist can replicate the emotional response s/he felt on first experience, or even intensify or modulate it, using form unmoored from its object, it is an enormous statement on the power of aesthetics as emotional language.

NYT: “Partners in Abstraction, Viewed in Tandem”
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