Christie's has $6m Georgia O'Keeffe for May

Boston Museum of Fine Art is deaccessioning a rare sunflower painting by one of the great figures of American Modernism.

Georgia O’Keeffe’s A Sunflower from Maggie (1937) will be a highlight of Christie’s 20th Century Art Evening sale this May in New York. The painting comes from the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA); it is being deaccessioned to benefit the museum’s future acquisitions. The estimate is $6 million.

“Flowers are a classic signature of the artist’s oeuvre,” said Emily Kaplan, Christie’s Specialist and Co-Head of 20th Century Evening Sale. “Sunflower canvases by O’Keeffe are in fact quite rare; this stands as one of just six sunflower paintings she made in her lifetime.” 

Flower paintings account for six of the top 10 prices for Georgia O'Keeffe works sold at auction. There was only one previous sunflower painting by O'Keeffe to have been auctioned, but it was quite a small canvas measuring 12 by 15 inches. That work sold in December of 2005 for $204,000. This work is larger at 16 by 20 inches and more vivid in its palette. 

A Sunflower from Maggie represents everything that one looks for in a masterwork by the artist,” Tylee Abbott, Christie’s Specialist and Head of Department, American Art. "Representational at first glance, yet incredibly nuanced and complex in her distinctive manner. Directed by the petals, the mesmerizing central oculus of the sunflower invites the viewer deep into the painting, allowing one to completely lose themselves in the work. It is precisely this type of experience and its universal appeal that has launched O’Keeffe on to the international stage and established her in the annals of art history.”

The Maggie mentioned in the title refers to Margaret Johnson, the artist’s neighbor in New Mexico. She was the wife of the President of Johnson & Johnson.

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