Ranchos Church, New Mexico
Oil on canvas
36 x 24 1/4 in.
signed and dated on canvas, in white paint: Georgia O'Keeffe-1930
u.l. in graphite on stretcher: Wickser 4M
u.c. in graphite on original backing board: 547 . 1:58
u.c. in graphite: Ranch church-Grey Sky 1930
u.c. in graphite on frame: O'Keefe [sic]
u.r. in graphite on stretcher: #9
c.l. in black crayon on original backing board: 26.2:39 [see file for photo of original backing board and labels]
l.l. in graphite on frame: Stieglitz's #28
l.l. in graphite on stretcher: #9 #10 #289
Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas
In the summer of 1929, O’Keeffe made her first of many trips to Taos, New Mexico, where the eighteenth-century mission church of St. Francis of Assisi became one of her favorite subjects to paint. She always depicted the church from the rear to explore the abstract, geometric qualities of its architecture—exaggerating its massive square apse and blocky rectangular buttresses. By enlarging these forms and merging their contours within the landscape and sky, the artist suggests that the church is an organic extension of the earth.
Like her fellow artists and friends Arthur Dove and Marsden Hartley, O’Keeffe blurred the lines between representation and abstraction. With Ranchos Church, she also erased the boundaries between the natural and the humanmade.