Georgia O'Keeffe

November 15, 1887 - March 6, 1986

Who She Is

Georgia Totto O'Keeffe is a child of seven, born on November 15, 1887, who grew up near Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, on a farm. In 1905-1906 and 1907-1908, she studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and Art Students League in New York where she learned techniques of traditional realist painting. In 1912, she studied the revolutionary ideas of Arthur Wesley Dow when her direction of her artistic practice shifted dramatically.


In 1915, she began to draw abstract charcoal drawings that represented a radical break that created a personal visual language she seeked for to express her feelings and ideas. Mailed to a friend, O'Keeffe shared her new abstract drawings, who then showed them to an art dealer and internationally known photographer, Alfred Stieglitz, who first exhibited her work in 1916. Known for her New York Skyscraper paintings, O'Keeffe was recognized as one of America's most important and successful artists in the mid 1920s


Georgia O'Keeffe made her first trip to northern New Mexico in the summer of 1929. Her many trips to New Mexico inspired a new direction in her artwork with it's stark landscape, distinct indigenous art, and unique regional styles of adobe architecture. For the next 20 years, she lived and worked in New Mexico, where she then made the state her permanent home in 1949. Her paintings corresponded with a growing interest in regional scenes by American Modernists who seeked a distinctive view of America.


Later in her life, O'Keeffe suffered from macular degeneration which is caused by the deterioration of the central portion of the retina, the inside back layer of the eye that records the images we see and sends them via the optic nerve from the eye to the brain. Because of her diagnosis, she was discouraged from her failing eyesight though in 1972 she painted her last unassisted oil painting.

"I can see what I want to paint. The thing that makes you want to create is still there" - Georgia O'Keeffe at the age of 90.