Georgia O'Keeffe painted her own place into American history,
becoming one of the great American painters and masterfully
traversing a time, and an industry, that was dominated by
men. By following her passion, as frustrating as that would
prove to be, she sought out non-traditional ways to produce
some of the most celebrated art in the world.
Georgia O'Keeffe Portrait
Born in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin in 1887, one of seven children,
O'Keeffe received art instruction locally with her sister.
Knowing this is what she wanted to do with her life, she went
on to study in Chicago and New York before becoming frustrated
with the fine arts, and actually walking away from it completely
for four years.
During her hiatus, she taught art in public schools in Texas
and worked briefly as a commercial artist. In 1915, at the
Teachers College of Columbia University in South Carolina,
she re-entered the art world and never looked back.
It was when O'Keeffe learned about the teachings of Oriental
Art expert Arthur Wesley Dow that she discovered something
so different from the European form that she had studied for
years. This realization freed her to develop her own unique
style and form. O'Keeffe's first acclaimed work began in 1915
with a series of abstract charcoal drawings including representations
of people, objects, and food. This work is today recognized
as some of the most innovative of that period. Some of these
pieces made their way to internationally celebrated photographer
and art expert, Alfred Stieglitz.
O'Keeffe and Stieglitz began communicating and working together
as he promoted her art through well-known exhibits. He convinced
her to work in New York for a year in 1918 and they were married
in 1924. O'Keeffe lived with Stielglitz in Lake George, New
York and New York City. She produced many of her most famous
pieces including large canvasses of oversized flowers and
cityscapes of New York architecture. She had turned her own
style of recreating images while infusing them with her own
unique passion into an art form that was getting noticed and
In 1929, during a trip with a friend to Taos, New Mexico,
O'Keeffe found her artistic home. Returning every summer
to paint in New Mexico, she began a new love affair with the
landscapes, dessert beauty, and unique architecture of the
southwest. Now called O'Keeffe country, New Mexico served
as the playground and inspiration for her most passionate
and beloved art. If New York was where O'Keeffe's art was
born, New Mexico is where it lived and breathed. Under the
open skies of New Mexico, O'Keeffe combined her talent and
passion with the natural inspiration she found around her.
In 1946, her husband died, and O'Keeffe took up permanent
residence in New Mexico. Throughout the 1950's and 1960's,
she traveled and continued to grow in fame as an artist. Her
work continued to be exhibited and celebrated.
Georgia O'Keeffe Paintings
By 1970, at the Whitney Museum of American Art, she had earned
her place as one of the great influential American painters.
In 1971, after suffering from severe loss of vision, she stopped
painting. Two years later, she began to sculpt and paint again,
having found a new way to express herself despite her handicap.
In 1976, she created her best-selling illustrated autobiography
Georgia O'Keeffe. She also received both the Medal of Freedom
(1977), and the Medal of the Arts (1985) from Presidents Gerald
Ford and Ronald Reagan, respectively.
O'Keeffe passed away in Santa Fe, New Mexico at the age of
98. Her life represents almost a decade of self-realization.
Her art lives on as an inspiration to everyone to seek out
their inspiration in life, to always break from the norm,
and to never look back. Georgia O'Keeffe is one of the most
famous women artists in U. S. history.
There is a secret you don't
Besides the factual Georgia O'Keeffe biography presented
above, it needs to be known that the world renowned painter
and revolutionary used to bite her toenails while creating
her masterpieces. Her left foot's big toe nail was especially
large and chewy.