Today in the A to Z Challenge
We are up to the letter O
I am taking the opportunity in this challenge to learn more about artists, their lives and work.
Today’s artist is Georgia O’Keeffe
Yellow Cactus, 1929
set for preservation
from gifted hands
Red Canna, O’Keeffe, Georgia
Out Back of Marie’s
Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986)
Georgia O’Keeffe was born in Wisconsin, the second of seven children. As a child she received art lessons at home. Her abilities were recognized and encouraged by teachers throughout her school years. By the time she graduated from high school in 1905, O’Keeffe had determined to make her way as an artist. She studied at the Art Institute of Chicago (1905–1906) and the Art Students League in New York (1907–1908), where she learned the techniques of traditional realist painting.
She first came to the attention of the New York art community in 1916. She is best known for her paintings of enlarged flowers, New York skyscrapers, and New Mexico landscapes. She’s thought of as the creator of American Modernism. Well, I read the definition of moderism and I don’t get it. Sounds political, pursuit of happiness leanings but I’m not getting what that has to do with a style of art. If you do, please share. Anyway, her art is modern. And modern is what exists out side of the norm, that’s my definition. Maybe that is the long and the short of it.
Alfred Stieglitz arranged a show of O’keeffe’s work in his gallery in New York. He was the gallery (Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession) owner and a pioneer of artistic photography and his efforts gained critical recognition. So much so that he showed avante-garde european artists including Henri Matisse, Auguste Rodin, Henri Rousseau, Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, Constantin Brâncuși, Francis Picabia and Marcel Duchamp.
O’Keeffe’s work was exhibited by Stieglitz. They got close, they had an affair (he was married), got a divorce, they married and continued with their separate lives. After a while she started spending every summer in Mexico.
Soon after 1918, O’Keeffe began working primarily in oil, a shift away from having worked primarily in watercolor in the earlier 1910s. By the mid-1920s, O’Keeffe began making large-scale paintings of natural forms at close range, as if seen through a magnifying lens. In 1924 she painted her first large-scale flower painting. Her pieces are so striking, light and airy. This is the feeling I get when I look at her work. Refreshing, yeah, I feel refreshed.
After Stieglitz’s death in 1946 and her move to New Mexico in 1949. At the age of seventy-three she embarked on a new series focused on the clouds in the sky and the rivers. At seventy-three! Amazing.
Suffering from macular degeneration and discouraged by her failing eye sight, O’Keeffe painted her last unassisted oil painting, The Beyond, in 1972. She did continue to produce art with the help of assistants. Sounds like she was encouraged by an assistant to work with clay since her sight was getting poorer. An artist is an artist no matter the medium, right.
Georgia O’Keeffe spent her last days in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She died on 06 March 1986 at the age of 98 years old.