History’s Heroines

Georgia O’Keeffe

Georgia O’Keeffe 1887-1986

    Georgia O’Keeffe is best known for her oversized paintings of flowers, animal skulls, and colorful dessert landscapes. The natural world was one she quite familiar with, having grown up as one of seven children on a Wisconsin farm. Taking art classes after school, she loved to draw the natural world around her. 

     By the age of twelve, she knew she wanted to pursue art as a career. After completing high school, Georgia attended the Art Institute of Chicago, but had to leave, due to illness, after only one year. Upon her recovery, she continued her education in Virginia, and later New York. Her early career was fraught with so many disappointments and challenges, however,  that O’Keeffe gave up painting for four years. It was her professor at Columbia University, Arthur Weasley Dow, that encouraged her to come back to art. He taught her to develop a style all her own; one that incorporated both the abstract style she loved with the realism of the subjects she painted. He encouraged her to recognize the importance of composition, telling her to “fill the space in a beautiful way,” and to use shapes and colors in unexpected, emotion-filled ways. By the late 1920’s she moved, with her husband, famed photographer, Alfred Stieglitz to New Mexico, where she connected immediately with the beauty of the landscapes there. She would live in the dessert oasis for the rest of her life. 

     Her contributions to abstract and modern art were so significant that she is consider the “Mother of Modern Art,” and was the first female to gain respect as an American Artist in New York’s art circles of the early Twenty-First Century. 

Some of her paintings include: Oriental Poppies, Soul with Calico and Roses, Red Canna, and Black Iris. 

photo courtesy: crfashionbook.com

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