Artist of the moment….Georgia O’Keeffe…..

A short clip featuring only the floral works of Georgia O’Keeffe.

 

O’Keeffe at home in the 1970s.

 

From her own museum, the artist and the photographs taken of her.

O’Keeffe was born in 1887 in a rural area in Wisconsin whose nearest city was Sun Prarie.  O’Keeffe’s parents were dairy farmers. Georgia was number two of seven siblings. O’Keeffe’s family moved to Virginia whilst she was still in high school. The artist remained in Wisconsin for a short time but eventually joined her family in Virginia and finished high school.

For her artistic studies the artist  attended the School of Art in Institute in Chicago in 1905 – 06.  She then took classes at the Art Students League of New York in 1907. Here she was able to study under William Merritt Chase. Its very interesting that Chase was willing to help women artists when few men took on female students. Chase also taught Martha Walter and Theresa Berstein, two other great female realists who lived to more than one hundred years old.

In 1908, O’Keeffe won a prestigious award for a still life painting of hers. The reward was to be able to go to summer  art  school at Lake George, New York.  During this summer session the O’Keeffe went to a show of the artist Rodin.  291, a photography and art studio, was presenting a show of his watercolors. 291 was  very big deal in New York in its time. Alfred Steiglitz, the man who would marry Georgia O’Keeffe, opened the gallery for two reasons. First, two bring photography to the same level as other forms of art including painting or sculpture. Second, it would be used to inform the viewing public of the United States the hottest and most successful artists of Europe.
In 1908 O’Keeffe gave up her dream of becoming an artist. She was very frustrated with the idea of mimicing other artists and wanted to express her own unique views.
The artist took a job in Chicago and took a job in the commercial art world.

After not painting for four years O’Keeffe was inspired by the artwork of Arthur Wesley Dow. OKeeffe took some summer courses at the Univeristy of Virginia and that is how she met Dow, who was a fantastic painter of landscapes who encouraged artists to paint what emotions they felt rather than recreate a certain object or subject matter. O’Keeffe went on to teach in the public school system of Texas and take classes at the Teachers College of Columbia. She went on to be part of the faculty and made some impressive charcoal works.

Anita Pollitzer, a well known photographer who sometimes showed at 291 which was a contemporary art and photography gallery owned by Alfred Steiglitz, told the owner he should check out some abstract works that she had received from O’Keeffe via snail mail. The works were abstractions done in charcoal. Though OKeeffe visited 291 whilst in summer school, she didn’t meet or talk to Steiglitz until 1916. Stieglitz loved the drawings and planned a solo show for O’Keeffe which took place in 1917.

In 1918 after several requests to move to New York and devote herself to a painting career full time, the artist agreed. The two were in love and after a divorce was finalized in 1924, the couple were married. It was to help relieve pain of Steiglitz who just had a daughter committed to an insane asylum.

Alfred Stieglitz started taking photographs with O’Keeffe as his subject when the two first started dating in 1917. He continued to take portraits of her and took around 350 shots of her over the years before retiring from photography in 1937.

O’Keeffe went on to specialize in painting large floral portraits in oil, before she had painted mainly in watercolor. By the mid 1920s, due to her great talent and the marketing of Alfred Stieglitz, the artist was among the highest in demand in the entire United States commanding large sums for her paintings.

In 1929 the artist was looking to escape New York  and she decided to try living in Sante Fe, New Mexico. For the next twenty years she would travel to New Mexico for a great deal of the year to gather materials.

High price range: I found it most interesting that of Stieglitz’s two highest priced photographs were done of his wife. One of her hands and one of her in the flesh(nude) that both sold for 1.36 million dollars and 1.47 million dollars.

 

I was unable to find any recent auction prizes for her art.

 

The artist lived in Ghost Ranch, New Mexico starting in the 1930s and received many commissions. Stieglitz passed away in 1946. Macular degeneration in her eyes forced her to stop painting in 1972. She continued to work in charcoal and learned to sculpt. O’Keeffe passed away in 1986 at the age of 98.

This artist had a remarkable life and career.

D

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