O'Keeffe, Georgia

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

O'Keeffe, Georgia

Georgia O'Keeffe (ōkēf´), 1887–1986, American painter, b. Sun Prairie, Wis. After working briefly as a commercial artist in Chicago, O'Keeffe abandoned painting until she began the study of abstract design with A. W. Dow at Columbia Univ. Teachers College. Thereafter she taught art in Texas. Her work was first exhibited in 1916 at the 291 Gallery of Alfred Stieglitz, whom she married in 1924. Immaculate, sculptural, organic forms painted in strong, clear colors predominate in her works. Living much of her life in New Mexico, O'Keeffe employed numerous Southwestern motifs such as bleached bones, barren, rolling hills, clouds, and desert blooms. Cow's Skull, Red, White, and Blue (1931; Metropolitan Mus.) is characteristic. Her pristine abstract designs carry strong elements of sexual symbolism—especially her flower paintings, her most personal works. Using a photographic close-up technique, she revealed the exquisite recesses of calla lilies, orchids, and hollyhocks. Her later works are more purely abstract. O'Keeffe is represented in a Santa Fe museum devoted to her works and in major museums nationwide.

See her collected drawings (1968), and B. B. Lynes, ed., Georgia O'Keeffe: Catalogue Raisonné (2 vol., 1999); S. Greenough, ed., My Faraway One: Selected Letters of Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz (1 vol., 2011–); biographies by L. Lisle (1987), R. Robinson (1989), and H. Drohojowska-Philp (2004); J. Cowart et al., Georgia O'Keeffe: Art and Letters (1987); B. Haskell, ed., Georgia O'Keeffe: Abstraction (2009).

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