It is difficult to conduct a visual analysis of Georgia O’Keeffe’s work without using the word “dramatic.” And although a symbolic analysis of her work might also bring into play some descriptions of a psychosexual nature, it is O’Keeffe’s appreciation of depth, color, terrain, and drama that provide the viewer with a distinct insight into the artist. Abstractions, flowers, bones, and desert and mountain landscapes that veer toward abstraction all found their way onto O’Keeffe’s canvases.
Her mentor, Alfred Stieglitz (1864–1946), became her husband in 1924. He first promoted O’Keeffe’s work in his 291 gallery in New York in 1916 and rapidly became her greatest fan. Stieglitz, whose work has its own prominent position in American photography, was largely responsible for O’Keeffe’s fame early on, although O’Keeffe was increasingly evaluated on her own terms as the twentieth century progressed.
Finding Santa Fe and its surroundings inspirational early in her artistic life, O’Keeffe is associated with her creative experiences in New Mexico and the existence she led there in pursuit of her passions. O’Keeffe died in Santa Fe in March 1986. A museum dedicated to her life and work opened in Santa Fe in 1997.
Georgia O’Keeffe was born 125 years ago on this date, November 15, in 1887.
—Warren Perry, Catalog of American Portraits, National Portrait Gallery
Georgia O'Keeffe / Una Hanbury / Bronze, 1967 / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Georgia O'Keeffe / Philippe Halsman / Gelatin silver print, 1967 / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of George R. Rinhart, © Philippe Halsman Archive