Women in Art

Georgia O'Keeffe

The most famous woman painter of our time was Georgia O'Keeffe. She is best known for her dramatic paintings of gigantic flowers and sun-bleached desert bones. Early in her career O'Keeffe placed all the art she created in a room to evaluate it. She destroyed them all because she thought each work was derivative of someone else's style. She started all over hoping the art would reflect only herself. Over the years she won many awards and had several major one-person shows at Stieglitz's galleries and major museums. Despite deteriorating eyesight in her later years, she continued to paint and work with clay.

An excerpt from O'Keeffe by Britta Benke:
Georgia O'Keeffe's art was always an immediate response to her environment. Alongside portraits of the landscape around Lake George, her work from the early 1920s onwards was dominated by still lifes of flowers and canvases of New York City. O'Keeffe had been fascinated by the microcosm of a flower ever since her schooldays in Madison, where her art teacher had brought a jack-in-the-pulpit into the classroom for the pupils to study.

O'Keeffe had begun painting flowers in 1918, but it was not until 1924, the year in which she and Stieglitz were married, that she produced the first of the magnified flowers with which she is most frequently associated, and which have come to represent a hallmark of her oeuvre. It was the sight of a tiny flower in a still life by Fantin-Latour that prompted her to adopt a magnified perspective: "A flower is relatively small. Everyone has many associations with a flower - the idea of flowers. [ ... ] Still - in a way - nobody sees a flower - really - it is so small - we haven't time - and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time. [ ... ] So I said to myself - I'll paint what I see - what the flower is to me but I'll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking time to look at it - I will make even busy New Yorkers take time to see what I see of flowers."

In 1925 a number of her paintings were included in the "Seven Americans" show organized by Stieglitz in the Anderson Galleries. Exhibited alongside works by Marin, Demuth, Hartley, Dove, Strand and Stieglitz, they drew an enthusiastic response from the public. In the period from 1918 to 1932 O'Keeffe produced more than 200 flower paintings, in which common flowering plants such as roses, petunias, poppies, camellias, sunflowers, bleeding hearts and daffodils are accorded the same significance as rare blooms such as black irises and exotic orchids. One of the flowers that she regularly treated in larger-than-life format was the calla lily. This subsequently became her "emblem" in the eyes of the public, and one which the Mexican artist Miguel Covarrubias took up in his caricature of O'Keeffe as "Our Lady of the Lily", which appeared in the New Yorker in 1929. Calla lilies had first caught the artist's eye in a florist's shop at Lake George: "I started thinking about them because people either liked them or disliked them intensely, while I had no feeling about them at all."

Image List

Black Cross, New Mexico

Black Place Green

Deer's Skull with Pedernal

Grey Line with Black, Blue and Yellow

Jack in the Pulpit

Blue, Black, and Grey

Evening Star No. VI

Lawrence Tree

Small Purple Hills

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Oil Painting Reproductions at 1st Art Gallery


O'Keeffe Museum
Selected Works
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