Our Art / Georgia O'Keeffe

Georgia O'Keeffe

Recognized as the "Mother of American modernism," O'Keeffe (1887–1986) was an American artist best known for her paintings of flowers and New Mexico landscapes. O'Keeffe began her formal art training at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and then the Art Students League of New York, but she felt constrained by her lessons that focused on recreating or copying what was in nature. Unable to further fund her education, she worked as a commercial illustrator then teaching for nine years, meanwhile studying art in her free time.

At that time she was introduced to the principles and philosophies of creating art based upon personal style, design, and interpretation of subjects, rather than literal representation copied from life. This realization dramatically changed her approach to art, and she began to experiment with abstract compositions and develop a personal style that veered away from realism, with her watercolors being more evocative in form to charcoal drawings that led to total abstraction. O'Keeffe created many forms of abstract art, including close-ups of flowers, like the Red Canna paintings, that many found to represent women's genitalia, although O'Keeffe consistently denied that intention.