O'Keeffe 'Weed' Wows Sale

Santa Fe -- “When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment,” Georgia O’Keeffe once said. “I want to give that world to someone else.”

Throughout her seven-decade career that is just what she did, often rendering a flower or even a weed around her house in New Mexico in extreme close-up, so realistically and with such precision that they have a highly tactile quality.

Art collectors of Art Kabinett social media network will soon have the opportunity to bid on one of Georgia O'Keeffe's most important works.

On Nov. 20, when one of O’Keeffe’s best-known paintings — “Jimson Weed (White Flower No. 1)” from 1932 — comes up for sale at Sotheby’s in New York, dealers expect not just American art collectors but also buyers of Impressionist and contemporary art to be among the bidders for the painting, which is estimated at $10 million to $15 million.

Of all O’Keeffe’s flower paintings, this one has a particularly interesting past.

It belonged to the artist’s sister, Anita O’Keeffe Young, and for six years had hung in the private dining room in the White House during the George W. Bush administration.

The work has also been exhibited around the United States, as well as in London and Mexico City.

The painting now belongs to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, N.M., which has owned it since 1996 and is selling it, along with two other paintings, to benefit its acquisitions fund.

The 17-year old institution has amassed enough work in its collection, 1,149 paintings, drawings and sculptures by O’Keeffe alone, that it says it can start to refine its holdings.

“The museum holds half the artist’s output throughout her life,” Robert A. Kret, the museum’s director, explained. “But still there are gaps that need to be filled.”

In choosing what to sell, Mr. Kret and his curatorial team selected images that represent three types of O’Keeffe’s work.

Besides “Jimson Weed,” there is a landscape, “On the Old Santa Fe Road,” from 1930-31, which is estimated to bring $2 million to $3 million, and “Untitled (Skunk Cabbage),” a still life from around 1927, which is expected to sell for $500,000 to $750,000.

But “Jimson Weed” is the jewel.

Sotheby’s has also sold it twice before, first in 1987 for $990,000, when it was included in property from the estate of the artist’s sister, and again in 1994, where it made $1 million.

That Sotheby’s won the consignment is no surprise.

The paintings were donated to the museum by the Burnett Foundation in Fort Worth, which has been a major benefactor and whose president, Anne W. Marion, is married to John L. Marion, a former chairman of Sotheby’s. (The Marions are founders of the Georgia O’Keefe Museum and on its board.)

Today's homepage Featured Art a Video offers a close up of O'Keeffe's "Jimson Weed" painting. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hT1HYFSr0tg&sns=em