A fine regard for the visible world

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By Roger Snodgrass

SANTA FE – When two artists cross paths in a provincial desert, the coincidence may barely register on the busy world. But decades later, the first acquaintance between giants of American art offers an illuminating way to look at each of them, their relation to each other and the similarities and differences in their extraordinary artistic contributions.

A new exhibition at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, “Georgia O’Keefe and Ansel Adams: Natural Affinities,” opening today and running through Sept. 7, celebrates the lifelong friendship between two modernist artists, one a painter and the other a photographer – both fixated on the power and beauty of the natural world.

The project brings together nearly 100 works by the two artists, in nine rooms where their works are interspersed or shown separately.

At a preview Thursday, Barbara Buhler Lynes, curator of the museum and director of its research center, introduced the exhibit as the product of “American icons.”

O’Keefe, 52 at the time, was older and already a successful artist in 1929 when she met Adams, 37, in Taos, where he was gathering photographs for a book he published the following year.

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