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Current time:0:00Total duration:2:36

Video transcript

when the remarkable wodsworth Athenaeum in Hartford Connecticut and we're looking at Georgia O'Keeffe's the Lawrence tree it's really early O'Keeffe it dates to 1929 it doesn't look like a tree at all it looks almost like this organic octopus-like form but when you just stop for a second and look at it you can see that we're looking up at the branches of a tree like we often do when we're lying on the grass and looking up at the sky we always take over the artists view in a sense when we look at a painting but because the view is so unusual here in some ways we really inhabit her eyes as she's looking at that clear night sky there's something incredibly poignant about it we become her or we see through her eyes at a very particular moment in a very particular view on a very particular night I have a strong sense of the passage of time and the momentary and how human life is so brief a whole set of things that happen because of this unusual point of view looking up through the tree at the night sky the subject and the point of view come together I almost feel the nighttime and this tree and the smell the pine space and time are beautifully interwove an hour I traveled out that trunk we're lying just below O'Keeffe spoke about how there was a carpenter's bench just at the base of this tree that she liked to lie on this was painted on D H Lawrence s ranch during her first summer in New Mexico there's something very particular about the way our eye travels up the tree and then pass this filed like form that are the needles of the pine and then beyond that the sky which intrudes and comes towards us and of course recedes infinitely in dome of that sky the radical changes of scale speak of both space and time are my newness and our rootedness in this much larger celestial space there is that pulling down and that sense of rootedness in the ER and at the same time that sublime suggestion of the infinite and the blue and the way that it pierces through that haze yes apparently the artist felt that this painting could be hung in any direction but the museum has hung it in a way that she seemed to have preferred she instructed the tree appear to be standing on its head