Georgia O'Keeffe

Known for her striking flower paintings and incredible works

Early Life

Georgia O'Keeffe was born on November 15, 1887 in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. She learned to love art at a very young age, and in the early 1900's she went to study at the Art Institute of Chicago. A year later she went to study at the Art Students League of New York. Although she was an exemplary student she found the art schools unfulfilling. She did commercial art in Chicago before moving to Texas to teach.
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Her First Exhibition

Arthur Dow was a specialist in Oriental Art, teaching in South Carolina. His interest in non-European art helped O’Keeffe move away from the way she had found so horrible while in school. She said, “It was Arthur Dow who affected my start, who helped me to find something of my own.” After O’Keeffe’s return to Texas, she made a few charcoal drawings, which she sent to a friend, Anna Pollitzer, in New York. Pollitzer showed them to a photographer and gallery owner, Alfred Stieglitz. He loved the vibrant energy of the work, and asked to show them. So, without her knowledge, Georgia O’Keeffe had her first exhibition in 1916 at Steiglitz’s “291 Gallery.”

Steiglitz and New York

Steiglitz convinced O’Keeffe to move to New York and devote all of her time to painting. He regularly presented her work that began to cause a buzz, and created a small following. Six years later they were married. For the next twenty years they lived and worked together. Living in New York, O’Keeffe created some of her most famous works. During the 1920s, her large canvasses of lush overpowering flowers filled the still lifes with energy and tension, while her cityscapes had subtle beauty in the industrial feel.
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New Mexico

In 1929 O’Keeffe took a vacation with her friend Beck Strand in Taos, New Mexico. She came back every summer to travel and paint because she loved the open skies and sunny landscape. When Steiglitz died in 1946, O’Keeffe moved there permanently. More than almost any of her other artwork, these early New Mexico landscapes and still lifes now represent her unique gifts.

Fame, and Tragedy

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, O’Keeffe’s fame continued to grow. She traveled around the world and had a number of major exhibitions in the U.S. The most important was in 1970 at the Whitney Museum of American Art, saying she was one of the most important and influencial American painters. The next year O’Keeffe’s vision began to deteriorate, and she stopped creating art all together. It was not until 1973, after meeting Juan Hamilton, a young ceramic artist, did she return to working. With his encouragement and assistance, she began painting and sculpting. In 1976 her illustrated autobiography, GEORGIA O’KEEFFE was a best seller, and the next year she received the Medal of Freedom from President Gerald Ford. In 1985 she received the Medal of the Arts from President Ronald Reagan. In the next year, at the age of 98, O’Keeffe passed away at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Her Impact

Georgia O’Keeffe’s work is still a prominent part of major national and international museums. Her paintings represent the beginnings of a new American art with out the irony and cynicism of the 20th century.

Modern Artist

Like Georgia O'Keeffe, Cornelia Konrad's art revolves around her surroundings. Konrad creates gravity defying artwork with the nature around her. Both O'Keeffe and Konrad have a deep respect for nature and use it as inspiration in their art.