Georgia on Our Minds

Georgia on Our Minds

 OKEEFFEa

Georgia O’Keeffe – American Artist –  November 15, 1887 – March 6, 1986

OKEEFFE

Georgia O’Keeffe is considered one of the greatest American artists of the twentieth century.

She is best known for her flower canvases seen in close range and her southwestern landscapes.

 OKEEFE_4Hibiscus with Plumeria, Georgia O’Keeffe, 1939, oil on canvas 40 x 30 inches

Artist and painter Georgia O’Keeffe was born on November 15, 1887, in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. She started making art at a young age and went to study at the Art Institute of Chicago in the early 1900s. Later, she lived and studied in New York City, the center of American art world, and studied at the Art Students League there.

She was unsatisfied with her art education, and thought she would never stand out as an artist trying to imitate reality the way she was trained. She did not paint for four years, and worked as a commercial artist and later as an art teacher.

She was inspired to paint again in 1912, when she attended a class at the University of Virginia Summer School, where she was introduced to the ideas of Arthur Wesley Dow. Dow believed that the goal of art was the expression of the artist’s personal ideas and feelings, and that this could best be done putting together arrangements of line, color, and shading, and not trying to “copy” something in the outside world.

OKEEFE_2Blue Flower, Georgia O’Keeffe, 1918, Pastel on paper mounted on cardboard, 20 × 16 inches

Dow’s ideas offered O’Keeffe an alternative to the realistic style she had been taught, and she experimented with them for two years, while she was either teaching art in the Amarillo, Texas public schools. When O’Keeffe was teaching art at Columbia College, Columbia, South Carolina, she decided to test Dow’s theories.

Wanting to find a personal language through which she could express her own feelings and ideas, O’Keeffe began series of abstract drawings that are now recognized as being among the most innovative in all of American art of the period. Abstract art uses elements like line, color and shape as a vehicle of  the artist’s expression. Abstract art doesn’t have to look just like something we see in the outside world.

OKEEFE_3Sunset, Long Island, Georgia O’Keeffe, 1939, oil on canvas board, 10 x 14 inches

O’Keeffe mailed some of these drawings to a former Columbia classmate, who showed them to the famous photographer and gallery owner Alfred StieglitzStieglitz gave O’Keeffe her first gallery show at his 291 Gallery” in New York City in 1916 and she married him in 1924. He was 54, she was 31. It was not an easy marriage, and she spent much time away from him, in New Mexico.

OKEEFE_1Black Mesa Landscape, Georgia O’Keeffe, 1930, Oil on canvas mounted on board, 24 1/4” x 36 1/4 inches

After frequently visiting New Mexico since the late 1920s, O’Keeffe moved there for good in 1946 after Stieglitz died. She often painted the rugged and rocky New Mexican  landscape  which she loved. She had the ability to capture the natural beauty of northern New Mexico desert and mountains in her art.

O’Keeffe died on March 6, 1986, at 98 years old in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Perennially popular, her works can be seen at museums around the world as well as the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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