United States, 1887-1986
When she was in eighth grade, Georgia
O’Keeffe announced that she was going
to be an artist. She never veered from
O’Keeffe studied art with several
teachers. She learned to “fill space
in a beautiful way” from Alon Bement
at the University of Virginia. This wonderful
sensitivity to space can be seen in all
her work, especially her flower paintings.
O’Keeffe painted flowers larger than
life, to take viewers by surprise and give
them a perspective similar to her own.
O'Keeffe’s earliest training was
in the styles of the great masters of Europe.
Their subjects, however, held little interest
for her. She wanted to paint the rocks,
mountains, and wide-open spaces around
her. When she decided at age 29 to focus
totally on nature, she burned her earlier
work and decided to start anew, emphasizing
shapes and forms. O'Keeffe continued following
her own vision throughout her life, never
being pulled into Abstract Expressionism,
Pop art, or any of the other movements
that dominated twentieth-century American
O'Keeffe loved to see "connections" in
the shapes of ordinary things. After painting
a shell and a shingle many times, she looked
out the window of her adobe home in Abiquiu,
New Mexico, and painted a mountain. She
later realized that she had given the mountain
the same shape as the shell and the shingle.
O'Keeffe saw beautiful form everywhere.
Some of her well-known paintings are of
parched bones that she found as she walked
in the desert around her home. Every form
became for her an abstraction.