Disclaimer: The information provided in this episode comes from multiple sources and is not my scientific studies or discoveries. Check the references for more details. Thank you!
Welcome to HerArt podcast, a project for art lovers, especially art created by women. In this episode, we will talk about Georgia O’KEEFFE — the American artist who was the leading figure of the artistic and cultural movement American Modernism, which started at the turn of the twentieth century. She is known for her revolutionary paintings especially those of enlarged flowers and for changing the gender balance in the art scene of the United States. This episode is brought to you by one of the most amazing co-working spaces in Chisinau “Armeneasca 13A” — Work gets done here!
Curious Fact #1
Georgia decided to become an artist when she was just 10 years old. From 1905 to 1906 she studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1908, at the Art Students League, she won the still-life prize for her work Dead Rabbit with Copper Pot.
Curious Fact #2
In January 1916, famous photographer and art promoter Alfred Stieglitz saw a portfolio of drawings by Georgia O’Keeffe. He was so taken by her art that he exhibited 10 of her drawings at the 291 art gallery without informing Georgia. When O’Keeffe arrived at his gallery, she wasn’t pleased, and brusquely introduced herself: “I am Georgia O’Keeffe and you will have to take these pictures down.” Despite their rocky beginnings, Stieglitz and O’Keeffe quickly made amends and went on to become partners in art and in life.
Curious Fact #3
O’Keeffe’s most famous works are the numerous paintings of flowers that she painted from the 1920s on and off to the 1950s. These paintings provide a dramatically large, sensual close-up of the flowers as if they are being seen through a magnifying lens.
Curious Fact #4
Many people believe that these paintings were a veiled representation of the female flesh. Georgia denied these accusations and claimed she was simply painting what she saw. In 1943, she insisted that they had it all wrong, saying, “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.”
Curious Fact #5
While in New Mexico O’Keeffe spent summers and falls at her Ghost Ranch, putting up with the region’s hottest, most stifling days in order to capture its most vivid colors. Apart from her numerous paintings of the local landscape and architecture, the tribal aesthetic and cultural traditions in New Mexico became integral to O’Keeffe’s art.
Curious Fact #6
Georgia quit painting three times:
- The first break spanned several years (the exact number is a matter of debate) when O’Keeffe took on more stable jobs to help her family through financial troubles.
- In the early 1930s, a nervous breakdown led to her hospitalization and caused her to set aside her brushes for more than a year.
- In the years leading up to her death in 1986, failing eyesight forced O’Keeffe to give up painting entirely. Until then, she fought hard to keep working, enlisting assistants to prepare her canvas and mix her oil paints for pieces like 1977’s Sky Above Clouds/Yellow Horizon and Clouds. She managed to use watercolors until she was 95.
Curious Fact #7
In 1977, Georgia O’Keeffe was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor of the United States. In 1985, she was also awarded the prestigious National Medal of Arts. 12 years after her death in 1996, the U.S. Postal Service issued a 32 cent stamp honoring her. Georgia O’Keeffe remains highly significant in influencing the gender balance in the artistic scene. She is one of the most important painters of the twentieth century and remains one of America’s most celebrated icons. She is also considered by many as the greatest ever female painter of the United States.
P.S. Georgia O’Keeffe was purported to have said, “I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”
Thank you so much for listening to the fifth episode of HerArt podcast — a project for art lovers, especially art created by women. If you want to follow more of what we do, find us on Facebook and Instagram. And don’t forget to tune in next month, when I am going to tell you about Tamara DE LEMPICKA — an Art Deco idol.
This episode was brought to you by one of the most amazing co-working spaces in Chisinau “Armeneasca 13A” — Work gets done here! I’ll see you around!