Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Walter White Wednesday 8

The art museum edition!

Gray Line with Black, Blue and Yellow, c. 1923
Last week, I discussed Jane.  This week, I want to briefly look at the artist she mentions so prominently - Georgia O'Keeffe.  You might remember that she convinces Jesse to go visit a museum in Santa Fe.  (We see their visit in flashback in Season 3.)  He's a little reluctant, but his interest is piqued when Jane mentions that he'd like the paintings because "some of them look like vaginas."  This is the O'Keeffe Museum.

Pelvis with Moon, 1943
O'Keeffe was an amazing woman and not just for her body of work as an artist.    (You can find out more here.) Born in Wisconsin, she had worked and taught in South Carolina and New York before a vacation to Taos, New Mexico introduced her to the landscape that has so entranced Vince Gilligan in Breaking Bad.  O'Keeffe was still struggling to find her true artistic voice, feeling stifled by European style art.  The wide-open desert and saturated colors of the Southwest gave her what she needed to break free of traditional confines of visual art and O'Keeffe began her most productive period as an artist.  Her paintings included such unusual matter as bleached cow skulls and yes, doors (Jesse never quite got that, but Jane did).
Black Door with Red, 1954

The majority of her sensuous close-up, large scale paintings of orchids and other flowers were done prior to her relocation to New Mexico, a fact that I'm sure didn't bother Jesse in the least.  O'Keeffe found beauty in non-traditional places - she referred to the area around Santa Fe, which many of us would think of as just empty space by the far more lyrical name "the faraway" (as a matter of fact, her ashes were scattered over "the faraway" following her death in 1986 at age 98) and her gift was in showing that to other people.

Little wonder Jane felt a connection to this powerful artist.  O'Keeffe was a woman operating at a very high level of success in a man's world and she saw the possibilities in objects and places that other people overlooked.
Yellow Calla, 1926

All photos courtesy of

And finally, the painting that I think of now as from O'Keeffe's Breaking Bad series.

Black Cross, New Mexico, 1929
Courtesy of
There's something ominous about this one.  Maybe it's the bright line just under the heavy crossbar.  Maybe it's how much of the canvas is taken up by the solid plumb lines of the cross, which blocks out so much of the lower light and chops up the rolling lines of the hills.  Or it could be the feeling I get of looking outward to the land from inside a house - the lines seem like they might come from the muntins and mullions of a window.  And yet, I don't feel at all protected by being "inside."  I half-expect to see the cousins crawling their way toward some unholy shrine.

So yeah, O'Keeffe - good stuff!

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