Georgia O’Keeffe or Georgia Totto O’Keeffe was an American painter, who revolutionized the concept of modern abstract art. Born on November 15, 1887 in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, Georgia O’Keeffe grew up in Virginia. She graduated from the Chatham Protestant Episcopal Institute in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1904, and studied painting at the Art Institute of Chicago (1905) and the Art Students League of New York (1907). She later moved to Texas and headed the Art Department at the West Texas State Normal College in 1916. The charm of the barren landscape caught O’Keeffe’s fascination, tilting the balance of her artistic skills towards capturing the beauty of the valleys and plains that surrounded her.
Georgia’s paintings drew up a close-up view of desert flowers, backdrops, cow skulls, and Calla Lilies. Her work won her a passionate audience. Her artistic brilliance was first noticed in her charcoal drawings of bud and flowers in 1916. Ace photographer and art gallery director of 291, Alfred Stieglitz, whom Georgia later married, exhibited 10 of her drawings in the same year. She had the knack of capturing and representing natural beauty in her own distinct ways. April 1917, O’Keeffe held her first solo show at the art gallery, 291.
1920s witnessed some of the best artworks of O’Keeffe. Her first large scale flower painting, “Petunia, No.2 (1924),” was first exhibited in 1925. She canvassed the buildings of New York in “City Night and New York–Night (1926)” and “Radiator Bldg–Night, New York (1927).” In one of her painting, ‘The Black Iris (1926),’ she magnified a flower beautifully, giving it a startling and an unusual look. Later in her career, O’Keeffe introduced different patterns of the sky, which she observed during her travels by air. Her mural, ‘Sky above Clouds (1962-63),’ is one of her largest illustrations.
Georgia O’Keeffe finally settled down in Abiquiu, New Mexico, after her husband’s death in 1949. She continued to fascinate the world with her emotive and simple paintings of exotic southwestern landscapes. By the time her illustrious career ended with her death in 1986, Georgia had carved a niche for herself and had left behind a legacy, which became a major source of inspiration for the other artists.
O’Keeffe always maintained that anything around her that came to her notice and intrigued her, she simply brought to the canvas. She was awarded the National Medal of Arts by the National Endowments of the Arts Washington, DC in 1985, which was presented to her by President Ronald Regan. She was also awarded the Medal of Freedom, which is the nation’s highest civilian honor. The National Institute of Arts and Letters awarded her a Gold Medal for Painting. She also held the distinct honor of being the first woman to exhibit her art at the Museum of Modern Art.