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Georgia O'Keeffe

Biography >> Art History

Portrait of Georgia O'Keeffe
Georgia O'Keeffe

Where did Georgia O'Keeffe grow up?

Georgia O'Keeffe was born in a farmhouse near Sun Prairie, Wisconsin on November 15, 1887. She spent her youth growing up on the farm with her six brothers and sisters. Later, when Georgia was a teenager, her family moved to Williamsburg, Virginia.

Learning About Art

Georgia's mother encouraged her artistic abilities at an early age. She took private art lessons from a local artist and found that she liked painting with watercolors. Even at the early age of twelve, she knew she wanted to become an artist.

A Passion for Art

Although Georgia had a passion for art, it wasn't easy for a woman to become an artist in the early 1900s. She was often looked down upon and not taken seriously. This didn't stop Georgia, however. After high school, she attended the Art Institute of Chicago and then the Art Students League in New York.

No. 13 Special
An early charcoal drawing by Georgia O'Keeffe
(click picture for larger view)
Developing Her Own Style

Georgia's early art career was difficult. She bounced around from job to job. Sometimes she taught art, and at other times she worked as a commercial artist. At one point she became discouraged and didn't paint for four years. However, she began painting again under the influence of the artist Arthur Wesley Dow.

As Georgia explored art, she began to develop her own unique style. She began to express her emotions and feelings in her art. Going back to the basics, Georgia made several charcoal sketches that were some of her first expressions of her new style.

New York

Georgia sent the sketches to a friend who (without Georgia's approval) gave them to a photographer and art gallery owner named Alfred Stieglitz. Stieglitz loved the drawings and began to display them in his gallery. When Georgia found out she was not happy and confronted Stieglitz. After some discussion, she agreed to let him continue to display her drawings.

Before long, Georgia and Stieglitz were in love. She went to live with him in New York and the two were eventually married. Over the next several years, Georgia continued to develop her style. She was influenced by both the city of New York and the landscape of New Mexico (her second home). She became a famous and popular artist selling hundreds of works, many which are now displayed in museums throughout the world.

Series 1, No. 8
by Georgia O'Keeffe
(click picture for larger view)
Paintings of Flowers and Plants

Some of Georgia's most famous paintings were large-scale impressions of flowers and plants. Her paintings of flowers were very colorful and often showed details of the flower while also giving the impression of feminism. The most striking feature of these paintings was the size of the flower and the vivid colors.

New Mexico

Georgia spent much of her later life in New Mexico. New Mexico was a special place for Georgia. The landscape provided her with inspiration and had a significant influence on her art. She painted impressions of the hills, rivers, and cliffs of New Mexico. She enjoyed painting the changing colors of the New Mexican landscape as the light changed throughout the day. Some of her most famous paintings featured the skull bone of a cow, giving her art a western feeling.

Death and Legacy

Georgia O'Keeffe died at the age of 98 on March 6, 1986 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Today, she is considered one of the most influential and famous female artists in American history. She is sometimes called the "Mother of American modernism."

Interesting Facts about Georgia O'Keeffe

Blue and Green Music
by Georgia O'Keeffe
(click picture for larger view)

Cow's Skull with Calico Roses
by Georgia O'Keeffe
(click picture for larger view)

See more of Georgia O'Keeffe's art here.


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