Image source: The Art Story
As we continue with our celebration of National Women’s History Month, we are featuring one of the most significant and intriguing artists of the twentieth century, known internationally for her boldly innovative art. Georgia O’Keeffe (November 15, 1887-March 6, 1986) is recognized for her fascination and inspiration of nature that is depicted through her iconic glowing landscapes, distinct flowers, dramatic cityscapes, and images of bones against the stark desert sky.
She could imitate the works of other artists but wanted to paint in her own way. The direction of her artistic practice shifted dramatically in 1912 when she studied the revolutionary ideas of Arthur Wesley Dow. Dow’s emphasis on composition and design offered O’Keeffe an alternative to realism. She experimented for two years, while she taught art in South Carolina and west Texas. She made a radical break with tradition which made her one of the very first American artists to practice pure abstraction.
Image source: cbsnews.com Black Mesa Landscape – New Mexico
In the summer of 1929, O’Keeffe made the first of many trips to northern New Mexico. The stark landscape, distinct indigenous art, and unique regional style of adobe architecture inspired a new direction in O’Keeffe’s artwork. For the next two decades, she spent part of most years living and working in New Mexico.
She created paintings that evoked a sense of the spectacular places she visited, including the mountain peaks of Peru and Japan’s Mount Fuji. At the age of seventy-three, O’Keeffe embarked on a new series focused on the clouds in the sky and the rivers below. This provided validity and strength into what she was painting.
Image Source: Christie’s
Late in life, and almost blind, she enlisted the help of several assistants to enable her to again create art. In these works, she returned to favorite visual motifs from her memory and vivid imagination. O’Keeffe’s will to create did not diminish with her eyesight. In 1977, at age ninety, she observed, “I can see what I want to paint. The thing that makes you want to create is still there.”
Today, we celebrate this American painter who created innovative impressionist images that challenged the perception of the way we view art.