On what would have been her 133rd birthday, we decided to take a look into one of the 20th century’s most important artists. One of seven children, Georgia O’Keeffe’s spark was never shrouded, and her contribution to not only modern art, but women’s art, continues unmatched today.
Here are 5 things you should know about Georgia O’Keeffe!
1. The Freudian Interpretations of her paintings were actually false
O’Keeffe’s (supposedly) yonic flowers were, for decades, suggested as being interpretations of the female form. Freud’s influence in the 1920s was heavily felt, resulting in a lot of (albeit dodgy) sightings of genitalia in the arts and culture. In 1943, however, O’Keeffe refuted these claims claiming:
“Well—I made you take time to look at what I saw and when you took time to really notice my flowers you hung all your own associations with flowers on my flower and you write about my flower as if I think and see what you think and see of the flower—and I don’t.”
Blue and Green Music, 1921
2. Her atelier was her Model-A Ford
Cow's Skull: Red, White and Blue, 1931
The artist chose the back seat of her car as a studio when creating her masterpieces.
O’Keeffe claimed that her trusty Ford protected her from the unrelenting desert sun and swarms of bees that relished in the hot, dry, Santa Fe climate.
3. She quit painting not once, not twice, but three times
Two Calla Lilies on Pink, 1928
Grey Line with Black, Blue and Yello, 1923
The fire that ignited O’Keeffe’s passion for painting was never extinguished, however, changes in her environment certainly dampened the flames. Nervous breakdowns, financial instability and her deteriorating eyesight meant she took three considerable pauses during her artistic career, yet her desire to create never went away.
4. She went blind
Throughout her long life, the artist suffered from macular degeneration and declining vision, painting her last oil painting in 1972. The American artist did, however, against all odds, continue painting despite being blind. Teamed with an army of assistants, O’keeffe was able to continue creating, focussing more on sculpture rather than painting, and drawing on her extensive imagination and memory.
“I can see what I want to paint. The thing that makes you want to create is still there.”
Music, Pink and Blue II, 1918
5. She made history for women artists worldwide
Abstraction White Rose, 1927
In 1946, The Museum of Modern Art held a retrospective for O’Keeffe, featuring 57 paintings by the artist.
This was the first-ever solo exhibition for a female artist held by the museum.