Illumination: The Paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe, Agnes Pelton, Agnes Martin, and Florence Miller Pierce celebrates four extraordinary American women artists, whose work spans virtually the entire twentieth century. Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986) and Agnes Pelton (1881–1961) created striking, brilliantly colored images using lush, organic forms; by contrast, Agnes Martin (1912–2004) and Florence Miller Pierce (1918–2007) painted signature geometric works of sublime simplicity. This revelatory book is the first to bring together the work of these remarkable artists. Illustrated with ninety-eight dazzling reproductions, it presents their distinctive visions, and explores the parallels between them.
All four artists were inspired by nature, specifically by the sparse desert environments in which they spent parts of their lives, and each used light as a formal device in her work. The book begins by examining their shared preoccupations; further essays reveal the ways in which O’Keeffe and Pelton constructed a sense of the imaginary in their art, and how they depicted the world. A final essay shows how Martin and Pierce sought, through their work, to link the external world with the compelling internal realities of memory, emotion, and spiritual belief. The book concludes with a chronology, juxtaposing events and images from each of the artists’ lives, which sets their achievements in the larger context of painting in the twentieth century.
Illumination provides a unique opportunity to appreciate the careers not only of O’Keeffe and Martin, both of whom experienced the limelight in their lifetimes, but also of Pelton and Pierce, who now emerge from the shadows to gain well-deserved recognition. Their ability to create visions of transcendent beauty and spirituality is amply demonstrated in this exquisite and inspiring book.