The Story Behind Georgia O’Keeffe's Atlantis Edition Prints

Woodward Gallery
Oct 18, 2016 3:26PM

When artist Georgia O’Keeffe created the actual first drawings published in this limited edition print portfolio she was still unknown. Her drawings, starting in 1915, were pure abstractions—among the earliest and most individual manifestations of American Modern Art.

Six of these drawings were part of the original portfolio that in late 1915 was sent to her friend Anita Pollitzer in New York, and presented to Alfred Stieglitz the world-renowned photographer and champion of modern and American art for the first time. “Finally a woman on paper!” he said. In 1916, he exhibited them in his pioneering gallery at 291 Fifth Avenue and proclaimed her genius. This 1916 exhibition was the historical beginning of the career and association O’Keeffe had with Stieglitz.

Soon after Stieglitz’s death on July 1, 1946, O’Keeffe would begin another career and association that would continue for over thirty years. She hired a young Wellesley graduate named Doris Bry to be her personal and professional assistant. By 1965, Bry had become O’Keeffe’s exclusive art dealer and agent.

In 1968, under Bry’s imprint of Atlantis Editions, O’Keeffe personally selected ten of her drawings—two borrowed from the Metropolitan Museum of Art—to represent the range and variety of her work in this medium. During the course of the experimental work on the initial publication of these drawings, changes were made by O’Keeffe. For her, these changes enhanced the relationship between the original drawing and the print. Only the artist herself could have sanctioned such bold changes in composition, in scale, and in tonality. Even at age 81, O’Keeffe and her memory of drawings were very much intact, from proof to print.

This first edition portfolio simply titled "Georgia O’Keeffe Drawings" was copyrighted and published in 1968 by Atlantis Editions, New York. Two hundred and thirty editions were numbered and signed by the artist. These ten drawings were printed in 300-line screen offset lithography at The Meriden Gravure Co. in Connecticut on Rives BFK and Arches Cover paper. In 1974, Atlantis Editions went on to publish a book "Georgia O’Keeffe: Some Memories of Drawings" detailing the events of this significant first publication of drawings to prints edited by Doris Bry.

Woodward Gallery premiered these relatively unknown, limited edition prints complete with insightful narratives from the book by O’Keeffe herself in a 2003 exhibition.

Woodward Gallery