Classroom Use of the Art Print

By Carroll, Colleen | Arts & Activities, April 2008 | Go to article overview

Classroom Use of the Art Print


Carroll, Colleen, Arts & Activities


Georgia O'Keeffe (American; 1887-1986). A Storm, 1922. Pastel on paper, mounted on illustration board; 18.25" x 24.375" (46.4 x 61.9 cm). Anonymous Gift, 1981. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, N.Y.

THINGS TO KNOW

Georgia O'Keeffe was born in 1887 on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. She knew at age 12 that she wanted to be an artist. While at school at the Art Students League in New York City, she studied under the famed American artist William Merritt Chase. Eventually, she left school feeling uninspired by the 19th-century traditions being taught to her, and moved to Chicago and then to Texas to become an elementary-school art teacher.

She was "discovered" by the photographer and art dealer Alfred Stieglitz after a friend of O'Keeffe showed him a series of her charcoal drawings. He exhibited these drawings in his gallery and thus began a correspondence and relationship with O'Keeffe that resulted in marriage. Stieglitz was instrumental in her enormous success and popularity, exhibiting her work many times until his death in 1946.

O'Keeffe is most known for her paintings of flowers, in which a single bloom is depicted in extreme close-up and detail. Other subjects of her work include shells, bleached bones, the landscape and architecture of the New Mexico desert (where she lived from 1949 until her death in 1986), skyscrapers, and clouds. Her contemporaries include (and are often grouped with her in stylistic terms) Arthur Dove, John Marin and Charles Demuth.

Some key dates in O'Keeffe's life: In 1939, O'Keeffe was named "one of the 12 most outstanding women of the past 50 years" at the World's Fair in New York City. In 1945, the Museum of Modern Art held a retrospective of O'Keeffe's work. In 1970, The Whitney Museum of American Art opened a retrospective of her work. In 1976, O'Keeffe published the remarkable book Georgia O'Keeffe, an autobiography and collection of full-color reproductions.

O'Keeffe was a pioneer of 20th-century American art. Besides being a woman who achieved enormous success and critical acclaim in a male-dominated profession, she broke new ground in how a subject can be depicted. She was fiercely independent and lived her life on her own terms. Today she continues to be a role model to women artists all over the world.

THINGS TO DO

* Primary. Read My Name is Georgia, by Jeanette Winter (Tandem Library; 2003), aloud to the class. By reading this picture-book biography (with illustrations made in the style of Georgia O'Keeffe), students will acquire background knowledge about O'Keeffe before beginning the art activity.

Next, show students this month's Clip & Save Art Print. Share with students that the image is a reproduction of a painting that O'Keeffe made when she was 35 years old. Ask students to point out elements of the composition that depict a storm (cloud, lightning bolt, dark skies). Next, ask students to point out elements of the picture that do not so clearly relate to what one might see during a lightning storm (reflection of the moon on the white area in the foreground).

Explain to students that O'Keeffe's drawing shows an electrical storm over a body of water. Challenge them to describe what the white forms in the foreground might be. Next, draw a zigzag line on the board and compare it to the lightning bolt in the image. Show students photos of actual lightning storms, and let students trace their fingers over the lines of lightning.

If time allows, or on another day, demonstrate for students how to draw a seascape using O'Keeffe's work as a model. …

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