Among the great American artists of the 20th-century, Georgia O’Keeffe stands as one of the most compelling. For nearly a century, O’Keeffe’s representations of the beauty of the American landscape were a brave counterpoint to the chaotic images embraced by the art world. Her cityscapes and still life's filled the canvas with wild energy that gained her a following among the critics as well as the public. Though she has had many imitators, no one since has been able to paint with such intimacy and stark precision. With exceptionally keen powers of observation and great finesse with a paintbrush, Georgia O'Keeffe recorded subtle nuances of color, shape, and light that enlivened her paintings and attracted a wide audience.
Georgia O'Keeffe's primary subjects were landscapes, flowers, and bones,
explored in series over several years and even decades. The images were
drawn from her life experience and related either generally or
specifically to places where she lived. Remarkably, she remained
independent from shifting art trends and stayed true to her own vision,
which was based on finding the essential, abstract forms in nature. Born
in 1887 near Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, Georgia O'Keeffe received art
training at the Art Institute of Chicago school (1905), the Art Students
League of New York (1907–8), the University of Virginia (1912), and
Columbia University's Teachers College, New York (1914–16). Georgia
O'Keeffe became an art teacher and taught in various elementary schools,
high schools, and colleges in Virginia, Texas, and South Carolina from
1911 to 1918. During one such position, Georgia O'Keeffe produced a
remarkable series of charcoal drawings that led her art, and her
career, in a new direction.
O'Keeffe was married to the pioneer photographer Alfred Stieglitz
(1864-1946) in 1924. Alfred Stieglitz was 54 when Georgia arrived in New
York, 23 years her senior. Educated in Berlin, he had studied
engineering and photography before returning to the States at the turn
of the century and opening the 291 gallery. He pioneered the art of
photography, and single-handedly introduced America to the works of
Picasso, Matisse, and
Cezanne at the gallery, along with publishing his
well respected "Camera Works" magazine. It was at Stieglitz's famed New
York art gallery "291" that her charcoal drawings were first exhibited
in 1916. The union lasted 22 years, until Stieglitz's death.
During the long winter months in New York Georgia O'Keeffe began to
paint her very large flowers, some of her most popular work today.
Georgia O'Keeffe completed her first enormous flower painting in
1924.The giant flower paintings were first exhibited in 1925. A Calla
Lily painting would sell for $25,000 in 1928 and draw media attention
to "O'Keeffe" like never before. Georgia's financial success would
finally prove to her that an artist could make a living with a
paintbrush. "I know now that most people are so closely concerned
with themselves that they are not aware of their own individuality, I
can see myself, and it has helped me to say what I want to say...in
paint" ,stated Georgia O'Keeffe referring to the 300 photos taken
of her by her husband.