Georgia O’Keeffe is a legend in the world of art who still lives on today, renowned for natural works of art depicting flowers, trees, stones, mountains, shells, and other things she found intriguing. Born in Wisconsin in 1887, Georgia was raised in the midst of a large farming family and had six siblings; she was the second oldest.
Perhaps one of the reasons Georgia developed an interest in painting was her mother’s cultural interests. In addition to their school studies, Georgia’s mother saw to it that all her daughters studied art, although Georgia said she really did not know where the idea to become an artist came from. Wherever it originated, she was highly successful! Six calla lily paintings created by Georgia sold for $25,000 in 1928; certainly that amount of money was hardly heard of during the period. At the time, this was the most ever paid for a group of creative works by a still-living American artist.
After studying at the Art Institute of Chicago, Georgia was given her first gallery show by photographer Alfred Stieglitz in 1916; eight years later, the couple married and were not only husband and wife, but best friends and partners until the time of Stieglitz’s death in 1946. Following his death, Georgia spent much of her time in New Mexico, where she purchased two homes, the Abiquiu and Ghost Ranch. For 35 years she lived in either of these two homes after moving from New York. In 1984, Georgia moved to Santa Fe where she died two years later.
Georgia’s Abiquiu home is open to tours today. When she purchased the 5,000 square foot Spanish Colonial-era compound in 1945, it was said to be in ruins. Georgia spent four years restoring the home with Maria Chabot, her close friend.
Some of Georgia’s earliest popular works of art include Oriental Poppies, Black Iris, and Shelton Hotel, N.Y. No. 1. These paintings were created during the early years of O’Keeffe’s and Stieglitz’s marriage.
For four years Georgia left the world of art, working in advertising in Chicago where she drew pictures of products for promotional purposes. This went on through 1912, a period when O’Keeffe’s mother was ill with tuberculosis and her family struggled financially. In 1912, she returned the University of Virginia art school in Charlottesville. Three years later, as she hung her artwork on the wall of her home so she could review it, she decided that art school was a waste, and that basically it taught all students how to approach art in the same way. From then on, she went her own way in an effort to find her unique style, which she definitely did!
Georgia O’Keeffe remains one of America’s most popular painters of natural artworks today; around the world, people still easily recognize her work, often identifying her paintings immediately upon seeing a huge display of colorful flowers or bones in a dream-like desert.
To create one’s world in any of the arts takes courage. ~ Georgia O’Keeffe