Georgia O'Keeffe (American, 1887–1986)
Oil on canvas
23 7/8 x 30 in. (60.8 x 76.1 cm)
Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1959 (59.204.1)
© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
The Black Place was the name O'Keeffe gave to one of her favorite painting sites, located in the Bisti Badlands in Navajo country, about 150 miles northwest of her home in Ghost Ranch. It was a stretch of desolate gray and black hills that the artist said looked from a distance like "a mile of elephants." Isolated far off the road and away from all civilization, O'Keeffe made several camping trips there in the 1940s, with her assistant Maria Chabot. Writing to Stieglitz in 1944, the year Black Place II was made, Chabot described in words what O'Keeffe captured in paint: " the black hillsblack and grey and silver with arroyos of white sand curving around thempink and white strata running through them. They flow downward, one below the next. Incredible stillness!" (Maria ChabotGeorgia O'Keeffe: Correspondence 19411949, 2003, p. 193). Over a period of fourteen years, from 1936 to 1949, her visits to the Black Place sparked a torrent of work that was almost unparalleled in her career. Between 1944 and 1945 alone, she completed six canvases, including Black Place II, one very large pastel, and at least nine pencil sketches.