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Dark Tree Trunks

Georgia O'Keeffe

American Art

The V-form is a recurring motif in O’Keeffe’s art and in her wardrobe. In this painting, she has pushed the composition in the direction of abstraction by cropping the tree forms abruptly at the canvas’s edge, bringing focus to the V formed by the converging tree trunks. This V, painted in New Mexico a few months after Stieglitz’s death, may also be endowed with personal meaning. The two sets of bare tree trunks, rooted to each other in the ground but grown apart, may be a subtle reference to her partnership with Stieglitz, frayed by the end of his life because of his attentions to another woman.

This painting can be seen hanging in O’Keeffe’s Ghost Ranch studio in the 1948 short film by Henwar Rodakiewicz, Land of Enchantment: Southwest U.S.A, on view nearby.
MEDIUM Oil on canvas
DATES 1946
DIMENSIONS 40 x 30in. (101.6 x 76.2cm) frame: 40 1/4 x 30 1/4 x 1 1/2 in. (102.2 x 76.8 x 3.8 cm)  (show scale)
INSCRIPTIONS Inscriptions on backing: 1. "Dark Tree Trunks 1950 [crossed out] 1946 (crossing out and '1946' inscribed by Doris Bry, black ink) / Oil/ 40 x 30 / Canvas / Baker 5837" (OKR, black ink) 2. "Dark Tree Trunks. / 1946 1950 [crossed out], 40 x 30 / Georgia O'Keeffe" (inscribed by Doris Bry, black ink) 3. "Spray Keck" (inscribed by Doris Bry, graphite)
CREDIT LINE Bequest of Georgia O'Keeffe
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Georgia O'Keeffe (American, 1887–1986). Dark Tree Trunks, 1946. Oil on canvas, 40 x 30in. (101.6 x 76.2cm). Brooklyn Museum, Bequest of Georgia O'Keeffe, 87.136.1. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 87.136.1_SL1.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 87.136.1_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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RIGHTS STATEMENT copyright transferred to Brooklyn Museum, 2006
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