Georgia O'Keeffe and Ansel Adams: The Hawai‘i Pictures

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    Georgia O'Keeffe (American, 1887-1886). 'Waterfall—No. III—Iao Valley,' 1939. Oil on canvas. Gift of Susan Crawford Tracy, 1996 (8562.1)

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    Ansel Adams (American, 1902-1984). 'On the Island of Molokai, Hawaii,' c. 1957. Gelatin silver print. Collection Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona. ©2013 First Hawaiian Bank

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July 18, 2013 - January 12, 2014
Honolulu Museum of Art

Exhibition Overview

This summer, the Honolulu Museum of Art presents Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams: The Hawai‘i Pictures, the first exhibition to feature in dialogue work created in and about Hawai‘i by these two American masters. 

Both artists are famously associated with specific places—O’Keeffe is inextricably tied to the American Southwest and Adams is known for his photography of Yosemite National Park. Both artists also visited Hawai‘i at the height of their powers, and captured the islands’ extraordinary sense of place. The Hawai‘i Pictures reexamines each artist’s Hawaiian interlude to reveal that the islands profoundly moved them and had an enduring influence on their subsequent work.

“Both artists wanted to unmask what lay beyond the beaches of Waikiki,” says Theresa Papanikolas, the museum’s curator of European and American art, and curator of the exhibition. “O’Keeffe went beyond prevailing stereotypes and pictured Hawai‘i in terms of her own authentic and deeply personal response to its natural beauty. Meanwhile, the work that Adams did in the island reflected and augmented his broader aim to exploit the capacity of modern photography to reveal the essence of a given subject and, in doing so, make America’s celebrated spaces immediately identifiable and accessible.”

The exhibition includes a selection of painting associated with O’Keeffe’s 1939 trip to Hawai‘i to create illustrations for print advertisements for the Hawaiian Pineapple Company (now the Dole Company). During her two-month stay, O’Keeffe visited O‘ahu, Maui, Kaua‘i, and Hawai‘i Island, painting dramatic coastlines, volcanic terrain, traditional tools, and exotic flora.

Adams’s photographs of Hawai‘i were also the result of a commission. He first visited the islands in 1948 to take photographs for a series on national parks for the Department of the Interior, and returned in 1957 for a commemorative publication for Bishop National Bank of Hawai‘i (now First Hawaiian Bank).

The exhibition travels to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in February 2014.

Document Hawaii: View artistic student responses to the exhibition here.

Enter our Ansel Adams Instagram contest!: Inspired by Adams' photos of Hawai‘i? Share your own black-and-white shots on Instagram. Submissions accepted through Nov 17.

This exhibition is made possible with generous support from:
The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Barney Ebsworth, First Insurance Company of Hawaii, Patrick and Edeltraud McCarthy, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The museum is grateful to a group of women supporting the exhibition: Linda Ahlers, Diane Chen, Elizabeth Grossman, Priscilla Growney, Violet Loo, Linda Nichols, Judith Dion Pyle, and Sharon Twigg-Smith.

Additional funding is provided by the Hawai‘i Council for the Humanities, Hawai‘i Tourism Authority and the City and County of Honolulu, and Donald and Laura Goo

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Hawaiʻi Council for the Humanities            Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority


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