A few years ago, I interrupted a panel discussion at the Guggenheim as it moved toward the dead-horse question of whether painting was still viable. How, I asked, uninvited, from the audience, could people talk of the end of painting when so many women were just beginning to paint? With hindsight I should have added that we were also still learning about the female painters of the past whose newly recovered works could very well influence the medium. History had in a sense not yet happened to their achievements.
Pelton and O’Keeffe, who was six years younger, had a surprising amount in common: Both studied with Arthur Wesley Dow (Pelton at the Pratt Institute; O’Keeffe at Columbia), who encouraged their interest in landscape non-Western art and thought. Both were affected by Kandinsky’s treatise “On the Spiritual in Art” and both were invited to visit Taos and Santa Fe by the saloniste and patron Mabel Dodge Luhan. (Pelton went first in 1919, for four months.) Each was profoundly changed by the desert, finding it to be her natural habitat.
(Roberta Smith, “‘Agnes of the Desert’ Joins Modernism’s Pantheon,” NYTimes, 3-12-20)
(c) 2020 JMN