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Georgia O'Keefe - Primitive Beauty

Georgia O'Keefe was a woman that was able to fully enjoy the glory of being a fortuitous artist of her time.  She was one of the first artists to prove that  a woman painter could be the equal of any man holding a career in art.  Born in 1887, at the age of ten Georgia knew that she wanted to be an artist.  Growing up in Wisconsin, she began art classes at a young age and showed a large amount of talent.

Red Poppy No. VI, 1928. Georgia O'Keefe.          

An event that drastically effected Georgia's art occurred when she was in art class one day.  She typically painted everything rather small, and one day her teacher asked her the reasoning behind this.  O'Keefe could not respond, but instead she created a huge painting as a joke.  This carried on into Georgia's artwork, and soon she began painting on a very large canvas.

Jack-in-the-Pulpit IV, 1930. Ntl. Gallery of Art

Georgia's most well-known paintings are large paintings of flowers that often cover an entire canvas with just one blossom.  The largest canvas that she ever painted was twenty-four feet wide (Sky Above Clouds IV, 1965). 

Red Canna, 1923. U of AZ Museum of Art.

Another event that greatly influenced her art was her introduction to the desert.  After visiting New Mexico with her husband, photographer Alfred Stieglitz, she fell in love with the extreme vastness of the place.  After his death in 1946, Georgia moved there permanently, and it was here that she became a symbol of the independent American artist until her death in 1986.

Red Poppy. 1927. Private Collection.

Georgia O'Keefe believed that a painting should not try to reproduce the way something looks.  Instead she thought that it should be a design in itself.  This may have been a major factor to her success.  After her first full-scale exhibit in 1943 at the Chicago Art Institute, she fell head-first into the art world.  In 1938 she was awarded a Doctor of Fine Arts, and she has had a number of paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum.  Also, in 1939, Georgia O'Keefe was chosen as one of the twelve most outstanding women of the past fifty years by the New York World's Fair Committee.  I believe that Georgia O'Keefe was an artist in every sense of the word, and this is further justified by her statement, "Painting is my language.  It is the way I speak."