Georgia O'Keeffe Paintings
Georgia O'Keeffe was an American artist who, to this day, defies classification and identification with a single school of art. Born in Wisconsin, O'Keeffe found her heart and inspiration in the American Southwest, striving for much of her life to capture the contours of the desert. Much of O'Keeffe's most enigmatic work depicts the quintessential elements of this unique landscape. O'Keeffe said of northern New Mexico, which later became her home: “such a beautiful, untouched lonely feeling place, such a fine part of what I call the 'Faraway'” The breadth of O'Keeffe's career is staggering, and early on in her career she established herself as one of the world's most important modern artists, a title she groomed and evolved throughout her long life. The American art scene, for much of history prior to O'Keeffe's rise to fame was dominated by men, with her singular style, O'Keeffe changed that.
O'Keeffe's early work was dominated by abstract images and she gained renown for these paintings. Later, her focus shifted to more natural subjects and she re-envisioned what a traditional flower painting could become with her large depictions of flowers in full bloom, magnified and intense in their detail. As she began to live and work in New Mexico, her focus against moved as she began to paint subjects inherent to the high desert terrain. It is perhaps these paintings that are her most identifiable. From her home at Ghost Ranch, O'Keeffe ventured out into the lonely deserts and mountains, collecting
rocks and bones from the desert floor that she rendered in surprising and beautiful ways. To this day, much of northern New Mexico, particularly the area surrounding Santa Fe, is playfully referred to as “O'Keeffe Country.”
Early on in her career, O'Keeffe gained attention for her still lifes, earning her a place a place at the Art Students League in New York City as well as the William Merritt Chase prize for a still life she titled “Mona Shebab.” Despite an encouraging start, O'Keeffe rejected the notion that she would find success within the confines of the art world and instead moved to Chicago to pursue a career as a commercial artist. During this time she did not paint and developed a lifelong aversion to the smell of turpentine. It was not until she attended a summer class at the University of Virginia that she was again inspired to pick up a paint brush, after studying the artistic theories of Arthur Wesley Dow. Dow encouraged students to harmoniously integrate line, color and notan (a Japanese style of illustrating light and shadow) into a complete expression of the self. After this life altering encounter with Dow's theory, O'Keefe again began creating and sought inspiration in a variety of places, moving to New York City, then to Hawaii, before settling in New Mexico.
It was during the 1930's and 1940's that O'Keeffe gained a great deal of her southwestern inspired paintings and her career gained great momentum. To this day, O'Keeffe's work inspires artist of all kinds and her legacy remains as unchanged as during her lifetime. Many moving landscapes akin to the work of Georgia O'Keeffe can be found in our Landscape Canvas section.