Engendered Modern: The Urban Landscapes of Georgia O'Keeffe, Florine Stettheimer and Berenice Abbott
This thesis explores the dynamic relationship between artists Georgia O'Keeffe, Florine Stettheimer, and Berenice Abbott in relation to the growing urban landscape of New York City in the 1920s and 1930s. Previous scholarship has drawn parallels between these three artists' careers solely in terms related to their biography and gender identity rather than their work. In contrast, my project identifies a common formal subject that links an experimental phase in all three women's work, and
... 's work, and explores the reasons these three individual creators found portraying the city to be an effective strategy for developing her own take on modernist style. Inspired by rapid development, each artist made work that shared her inventive vision of the city. Using visual analysis and historical context associated with the second wave of skyscraper construction as well as the second generation "New Woman" movement, I argue that each artist produced idiosyncratic art that makes sense of the rapidly morphing city surrounding them. Eschewing conventional gender expectations and traditional art historical narratives, the three artists tell visual stories that illustrate life in a modern urban city. Each woman's goals and artistic expectations differ, but they all share the struggle to achieve professionally despite systemic roadblocks placed before them by the male-dominated art world. With the city as their muse, they utilize the metaphor of organic growth to encapsulate the city in flux.