Georgia O'Keeffe (American, 18871986)
Oil on canvas; 36 x 40 1/8 in. (91.2 x 102 cm)
Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1959 (59.204.2)
© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Since 1935, O'Keeffe had been experimenting with compositions that combined skeletal and landscape imagery, without regard to their relative size, scale, or perspective. Rendering each element in equally sharp focus, she blurred the spatial distinctions between what is perceived of as being near and what is far. Here, an enormous animal skull rests tentatively on the narrow strip of land at the bottom, emphasizing the strong similarities between the color and shape of the enormous antlers and the hilltop peaks. Despite her hyperrealistic painting style, there is no verisimilitude to the scene. Even the animal skull with its extravagant number of antlers is an imaginative invention. Merging these images into a single composition, however, may have been O'Keeffe's way of summarizing her feelings about the Southwest. Originally titled Deer's Horns, Near Cameron, after her 1937 camping trip to Arizona with photographer Ansel Adams, she later gave it this more poetic title that suggests both a physical and emotional reality. As O'Keeffe wrote (1976), the Far Away was "a beautiful, untouched lonely-feeling place."