You have truly never seen a flower until you see one that was painted by Georgia O’Keeffe. Known as the “Mother of American modernism”, O’Keeffe, who was a renowned and distinguished artist, painted huge blooms bringing out of all their detail in a way that hummingbirds would see them. O’Keeffe’s flowers are just as popular today as when she first painted them as they are included on posters, greeting cards as well as in many other types of stationary and works of art. Some of the paintings of her larger than life blooms are Petunia No. 2 (1925), Black Iris (1926) and Oriental Poppies (1928) among many others.
Ever since she was young, O’Keeffe loved to draw and paint like her two grandmothers and two of her sisters. Ida Toto, O’Keeffe mother, stimulated her love for painting by arranging art lessons with a local artist. As she grew up, O’Keeffe’s artistic talent developed even more. After High School, O’Keeffe attended the Art Institute of Chicago and studied with John Vanderpool. Already she stood out from many other artists since she was at the top of her class.
Before becoming a full time artist, O’Keeffe had regular teaching jobs. From 1912 to 1914, O’Keeffe taught art at the public school in Amarillo, Texas. She also taught art at Columbia College in 1915.
When O’Keeffe married Stieglitz, an art dealer, she became a full time artist. Since Stieglitz promoted her art work and gave her financial support for her artistic pursuits, she was finally able to pursue her dream of dedicating herself 100 percent to her art. During her marriage to Stieglitz, she started painting those huge flowers that made her famous.
Like many artists, O’Keeffe also became inspired by the scenery of New York with it’s tall skyscrapers as well as with the famous metropolis that comes to life at night with all those lights. She created several paintings inspired by the sites of New York such as City Night (1926), Shelton Hotel, New York No. 1 (1926) and Radiator Bldg Night, New York (1927) among many other works. Some of O’Keeffe paintings are displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
In addition to capturing the magic of New York through her unique art works, O’Keeffe also became interested in the picturesque scenery of Northern New Mexico. The Navajos who lived in the Southwest and their rich culture also became a theme in her works. She painted the essence of the Southwestern America in these works: Black Cross, New Mexico (1929), Cow’s Skull: Red, White and Blue (1931), Ram’s Head, White Hollycock, Hills (1935), among many others.
As O’Keeffe paintings received worldwide acclaim, she became a woman who established a name for herself in the world of art that was formerly dominated by men. O’Keeffe’s life and her artistic works are great symbols of feminism during Women’s History Month.
During her golden years, O’Keeffe had a great attitude that we should all try to emulate, for she kept creating wonderful works of art her entire life. Even though her eyesight failed when she was elderly, she still painted with the help of others. That fiery passion that she had for her art in youth did not end in old age. Since she did what she loved, she always remained young.