Georgia O’Keeffe at 92

Sun­day marked 25 years since the death of Geor­gia O’Keeffe, one of Amer­i­ca’s fore­most artists. The anniver­sary of her death coin­cides with the begin­ning of Women’s His­to­ry Month. So we fig­ured why not offer a lit­tle piece on her.

Born in 1887 in Sun Prairie, Wis­con­sin, O’Keeffe grew up know­ing she want­ed to be an artist. Though she received train­ing in aca­d­e­m­ic art and won prizes for still life paint­ings, she left paint­ing for a while to teach. But when a friend sent her exper­i­ments in char­coal to Alfred Stieglitz in New York (the two lat­er mar­ried), he offered her her own show in his pop­u­lar and avant garde Stu­dio 291. This all hap­pened in 1916, and she would not stop paint­ing until her death in 1986, when she was 98 years old.

Known for her large scale and bold paint­ings of flow­ers and cityscapes, O’Ke­effe found a per­ma­nent home in New Mex­i­co where she paint­ed the shapes of the desert from bones to adobe church­es. She main­tained a unique and inde­pen­dent spir­it, as illus­trat­ed in this clip from a biog­ra­phy filmed when she was 92 years old. (See above.) The cura­tor of the Geor­gia O’Keeffe Muse­um in San­ta Fe sums up O’Keeffe’s last­ing influ­ence, stat­ing “in 1970, when the Whit­ney Muse­um of Amer­i­can Art opened a ret­ro­spec­tive exhi­bi­tion of her work, she became the hero­ine of the fem­i­nist move­ment, thus posi­tion­ing her in the lime­light, which she had first enjoyed in the 1920s.  Whether or not artists work­ing since then have liked or dis­liked her work, they acknowl­edge the fact that she estab­lished a place for women in an are­na from which women had tra­di­tion­al­ly been exclud­ed”…

For a quick intro­duc­tion to O’Ke­ef­fe’s work, watch Smarthis­to­ry’s video intro to the 1929 paint­ing, “The Lawrence Tree.” It gets that name because it was paint­ed on D.H. Lawrence’s ranch.

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  • Joe Chase says:

    Thank you for tak­ing the time to remem­ber Geor­gia O’Ke­effe and her influ­ence. Your recog­ni­tion of her death 25 years ago is cor­rect; your state­ment in the text indi­cates she died in 1982, which should be cor­rect­ed to 1986.

  • Ani Hovhannisyan says:

    hi! why can’t i watch the video? i’d love to see it. huge fan of geor­gia and stieglitz. please email me with the link if you can! mankxx@gmail.comnnnbest wishes,nnnani

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