I get out my work and have a show for myself before I have it publicly. I make up my own mind about it–how good or bad or indifferent it is. After that the critics can write what they please. I have already settled it for myself so flattery and criticism go down the same drain and I am quite free.
– Georgia O’Keeffe
She was among the pioneers of modernism in America. Georgia O’Keeffe was part of the Steglitz circle and went on to marry him in 1924. She is chiefly known for paintings in which she synthesized abstraction and representation in paintings of flowers, rocks, shells, animal bones and landscapes. Her paintings present crisply contoured forms that are replete with subtle tonal transitions of varying colors. She often transformed her subject matter into powerful abstract images.
From the 1930s she spent her winters in New Mexico, relocating there after her husband’s death. In 1946 she began to explore the desert landscape as a new subject matter and in the 1950s, after beginning to travel widely, the earth sky and clouds viewed from a plane became a theme. She reduced her artwork production in 1971 given she was partially blind, but explored ceramics as a new outlet for her creativity. She, along with Charles Sheeler and Charles Demuth were the proponents of American modernism called precisionism or Cubist Realism. They straddled the borderline between representation and abstraction, often using clear-edged rectangles to illustrate skyscrapers and factories.
BIRTHDATE: Nov. 15, 1887
BIRTHPLACE: Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.
EDUCATION: Graduated from the Chatham Protestant Episcopal Institute in Williamsburg, Va. in 1904. Studied art at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Art Students League in New York.
FAMILY BACKGROUND: Ancestors were from Ireland and Hungary; her family were farmers. She grew up in both Sun Prairie and Williamsburg, Virginia.
The artistic brilliance of Georgia O’Keeffe revolutionized modern art in both her time and in the present. With her paintings she vividly portrayed the power and emotion of objects of nature. This was first seen in her charcoal drawings of silhouetted bud-like forms exhibited in 1916 that brought her fame. During the 1920s , she explored this theme in her magnified paintings of flowers which to this day enchant people amorously, although her purpose was to convey that nature in all its beauty was as powerful as the widespread industrialization of the period.
After spending a summer in New Mexico, Georgia O’Keeffe, enthralled by the barren landscape and expansive skies of the desert, would explore the subject of animal bones in her paintings of the 1930s and 1940s. Just as with the flowers, she painted the bones magnified and captured the stillness and remoteness of them, while at the same time expressing a sense of beauty that lies within the desert.
Georgia O’Keeffe was married to the pioneer photographer Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) in 1924. It was at Stieglitz’s famed New York art gallery „291” that her charcoal drawings were first exhibited in 1916. The union lasted 22 years, until Stieglitz’s death.
The paintings from the latter phase of Georgia O’Keeffe’s career (after her move to New Mexico in 1949) concerned a rectangular door on an adobe wall and the sky. These were far less inspiring than her earlier works-which continued to be rediscovered through her lifetime and to the present day.
DATE OF DEATH: March 6, 1986, age 98.
PLACE OF DEATH: Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters
First retrospective show of a woman’s art at the Museum of Modern Art
Awarded the Gold Medal of Painting by the National Institute of Arts and Letters
Awarded the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor
President Ronald Reagan presented the National Medal of Arts in 1985.
The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
Georgia O’Keeffe Gallery
Georgia O’Keeffe – Ellen’s place illustrated biography
Georgia O’Keeffe Art Links – links to works viewable on the Web
Georgia O’Keeffe and the Camera
June 12, 2008 – September 7, 2008
This exhibition of 60 photographs of Georgia O’Keeffe and 18 works by the artist will address the relationship between her art and photographs made of her over the course of a long career. For the first time, the exhibition will pair paintings and photographs to establish two opposing public images of the artist. Georgia O’Keeffe and the Camera will include works by famous photographers such as Ansel Adams, Alfred Stieglitz, Eliot Porter, Todd Webb, and Arnold Newman. The exhibition will also include examples of O’Keeffe’s paintings and works on paper that mark major moments in the development of her art: the early abstract drawings, the first landscapes in New Mexico from the 1930s, and the late architectural studies of her homes at the Ghost Ranch and Abiquiu.
This exhibition is made possible by the generosity of Scott and Isabelle Black. Corporate sponsorship is provided by Bank of America, with additional support from The Bear Bookshop, Marlboro, Vermont. Media support is provided by WCSH 6 and the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram.
The exhibition “Georgia O’Keeffe and the Camera” is on view at the Portland Museum of Art in Portland, Maine. For more information about the exhibition and the Museum, please visit, http://www.portlandmuseum.org