Georgia O’Keeffe

Georgia O’Keeffe was born in 1887 in Wisconsin. She was a very skilled artist even when she was young and was determined to be an artist. She went to the Art institute of Chicago and the Arts Students League. After O’Keeffe won the League William Merritt Chase award for a painting she did, she slowed down as an artist and kept to the sidelines. After about four years, she came back into her artistic sensibility and attended a course at the University of Virginia for art teachers.

At this program, she was moved and intrigued with Arthur Wesley Dow’s ideas of being an artist. He expressed that artists transfer their emotions and ideas into their art. In 1915 she started experimenting with the idea that Dow implanted in her mind. O’Keeffe created a variety of abstract art using charcoal as her chosen medium. She then sent these drawings to a friend who sent them to Alfred Stieglitz, who eventually made these drawings very famous. Stieglitz helped bring her into the fame of the art world. He helped her get into galleries and offered her to come to New York and pursue her career there.

In 1924 Stieglitz and O’Keeffe were married.  Stieglitz continuously promoted O’Keeffe’s work including her famous close up paintings of flowers that have symbolic meanings. Their marriage showed true companionship and they both worked together. After Stieglitz died, O’Keeffe moved to New Mexico and kept working on paintings until she retired.  In 1976, she was awarded the Medal of Freedom from President Gerald Ford for her autobiography.  She also was awarded the Medal of Arts from President Ronald Reagan. O’Keeffe died when she was 98 in 1982 and has become one of the most well known and highly respected American artists. Her paintings not only show a beauty but also they radiate with emotion and feeling. Her flower paintings evoke vaginal imagery, which has made her work controversial.


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