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Georgia Okeeffe

.. he country. She took a leave of absence from the teaching job and later resigned. It’s possible that there was pressure from the community to encourage her resignation. One good reason was for what people called radical views, which she had concerning the United States’ entry into the war in Europe along with other rebel opinions that were shocking to the small Texas town.

She was encouraged by Stieglitz to return to New York. By this time he had fallen in love with O’Keeffe and wanted to pursue a relationship. He being in an unhappy marriage, had moved out from the family home and into his studio. She boarded a train in June of 1918 to return to New York, Stieglitz, and to a new life that would make her into one of the most important artist of the century. Shortly after her arrival, Alfred took Georgia up to the Stieglitz family home at Lake George in the Adirondack Mountains.

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They would return to the lake home each summer for years to come. Georgia produced many paintings of the Lake George countryside during these years. Stieglitz was Georgia’s most avid supporter. He arranging shows, and sold her paintings. Buying an O’Keeffe was not only expensive, but a collector needed to meet Stieglitz’s somewhat hazy standards for owning one.

By this time she was known only as O’Keeffe to the art world. She rarely signed a painting, but instead would sometimes print an OK on the back of the canvas. Alfred’s wife divorced him in September 1924 and he began to press O’Keeffe into marriage. She was reluctant to do so since they had lived together since 1918 and had survived the scandal, seeing no reason to marry now. She finally gave in and they married late in December. During the long winter months in New York she began to paint her very large flowers, some of her most popular work today.

She completed her first enormous flower painting in 1924. The giant flower paintings were first exhibited in 1925. A Calla Lily painting would sell for $25,000 in 1928 and had drawn media attention to O’Keeffe like never before. O’Keeffe’s financial success would finally prove to her that an artist could make a living with a paintbrush. In 1925 she and Stieglitz moved to the Shelton Hotel in New York, taking an apartment on the 30th floor of the new building. They would live here for 12 years.

With such a spectacular view, Georgia began to paint the city. By 1928 O’Keeffe began to feel the need to travel and to find other sources for painting. The demands of an annual show needed new material. Friends returning from the West with stories stimulated Georgia’s desire to see and explore new places. Alfred had no desire to leave New York and Lake George..he hated change of any type. In May of 1929, Georgia would set out by train with her friend, Beck Strand, to Taos, New Mexico..a trip that would forever change her life. Georgia found that the thin, dry air enabled her to see farther and at times could see several approaching thunderstorms in the distance at once.

She affectionately referred to the land of northern New Mexico as the faraway, better defined as a place of stark beauty and infinite space. Soon after their arrival, Georgia and Beck where invited to stay at Mable Dodge Luhan’s ranch outside of Taos for the summer. She would go on many backpacking trips exploring the rugged mountains and deserts of the region. On one trip she visited the D.H. Lawrence ranch and spent several weeks there.

While in Taos she visited the historical mission church at Ranchos de Taos. Although she painted the church as many artists had done before, her painting of only a fragment of the mission wall silhouetted against the dark blue sky would portray it as no artist had before. ..I often painted fragments of things because it seemed to make my statement as well as or better than the whole could..I had to create an equivalent for what I felt about what I was looking at..not copy it. Being a loner, Georgia wanted to explore this wonderful place on her own. She bought a Model A Ford and asked others to teach her how to drive. After one particularly exasperating moment, one of her teachers declared that she was unable to learn the art of driving. Only her determination was to lead to mastering her machine. In her yearly visits to New Mexico she would travel the back roads in the Model A ford. O’Keeffe remodeled her vehicle.

She removed the backseat, and would unbolt the front seat, and turned it around so that she could prop her canvas against the back wall of the car. Georgia would return to New Mexico, which she considered her land, each summer until Stieglitz’s death in 1946. O’Keeffe spent three years in the city settling his estate. In 1949 at the of age 62, she made New Mexico her permanent residence. She dividing her time between her summer home at Ghost Ranch and an adobe house she had renovated in the historic village of Abiquiu. O’Keeffe traveled internationally, painted and continued to enjoy her status as a supreme American artist.

To add to her accomplishments, in 1977, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Gerald R. Ford. The final days of O’Keeffe’s life were spent in her home. She was well into her 90’s and was tired with life. One friend stated that when visiting her had asking of her current condition, O’Keeffe stated it’s time for me to go. By this time she had lost most of her sight, and could only hold onto her art by sculpting and working with ceramics.

However the results were unsatisfactory to her. As her health began to fail, many people remarked at her solid grasp on reality, and her calm peace of mind. She would not make it to her 100th birthday, she died on March 7, 1986, shortly after entering a Santa Fe hospital. She was 98. Arts Essays.

Georgia Okeeffe

Georgia O’keeffe Georgia O’Keeffe was an artist of world renown but a person of mysterious character. She lived a unique life which was not accepted as moral by most people. She surrounded herself with artistic, creative minds and carefully selected her friends and confidants. Events in her youth influenced her actions and artwork for almost 100 years. O’Keeffe moved about the country, a lover of travel who never was satiated. She came from an eccentric family with mixed ethnic heritage, and the women around her were strong and self- confident.

Her life was an epic tale, worthy of retelling. On November 15, 1887, Georgia was second born of seven children to Ida and Francis O’Keeffe. Living in rural Wisconsin, her father came from a typical Irish Catholic matriarchy, where mother’s word was final. Ida O’Keeffe was an ambitious woman “whose dream of becoming a doctor was laid to her marriage to the tenant farmer a loveless union (Hogrefe 13).” Perhaps it was the stifling of her ambition that led Ida to treat Georgia so badly. As a young girl, the artist was described as precocious, mentally mature, and “queen of the castle”, whether it be in relation to her siblings or fellow students in the studio.

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Either way, her mother was generally a cold person who offered little affection to her oldest daughter, even going so far as to lock her in the back room, alone, when company came. Thus, Georgia turned to a close relationship with her father. The family knew that Georgia was Frank’s favorite, and he took her on excursions and gave her special privileges. All this came with consequences, though. It is a widely accepted fact that she was sexually abused by her father, older brother, or both, which accounts for many of O’Keeffe’s “unorthodox” behaviors throughout her life.

For example, in boarding school she was known to kiss and touch her female classmates frequently. When enrolled in classes at the Art Students’ League in New York City, she ran, terrified, out of a figure drawing class where stood a male nude model. In all her years, Georgia surrounded herself with ineffectual males who were frequently homosexual. Perhaps she liked them because they posed no threat to her. On the other hand, she adored her female counterparts, having friendships with some and sexual relationships with others. She was even known to sit in a shed at the Stieglitz summer home in Lake George, NY, and paint naked for hours.

Sometimes her young niece would make art at her side, and it is uncertain whether there were romantic relations between them. It was clear that Georgia’s unusual upbringing led to an unusual lifestyle, in any case. Ida seemed to want a somewhat normal life for her children, and insisted they be brought up Protestant, but the only private school in the area was Catholic. The O’Keeffes could only afford to send one child at a time, and rotated public and private education yearly. Georgia had many memories of being taught by strict and severe nuns.

She received art instruction beginning in her youth and thus began a legacy of creative genius. O’Keeffe’s first interaction with the masters like Michaelangelo, Da Vinci, and others was by copying famous works. This practice was widely used and encouraged in art schools all over the world. Then she met a teacher who instructed her in the Dow Method. “Instead of copying the works of others, [it] advocated that students produce original artwork from the beginning of their instruction.(Hogrefe 25).” Alon Bement taught Georgia most of the concepts she would ever use or apply in her artwork. This was the summer of 1912 at the University of Virginia. After this, Georgia took up a teaching position in Amarillo, Texas, an area she found to be paradisiacal.

She was an excellent teacher, well- liked, and always kept her students interested. The Texan landscape was like nothing she had ever seen before, with skies and plains stretching out further than the mind could fathom. The places she saw in the West inspired her, and she could never escape it for very long without feeling a strong sense of longing. It was from there that she drew most of the objects, images and memories which she put in her paintings. She lived out west for a significant portion of her life because things were simpler and most people did not ask too many questions. One of O’Keeffe’s friends from art school in New York City, Anna Pollitzer, became a link to a great change for Georgia.

Pollitzer knew Alfred Stieglitz, a world- renowned photographer and proprietor of 291, a gallery in the city. In January of 1916, she received some drawings from O’Keeffe, who was out west. They so amazed Pollitzer that she broke a promise and brought them to show to Stieglitz. He saw them as a revelation, and wanted to display them as soon as possible. O’Keeffe found out about the show upon her return to New York City, and was enraged.

She seemed to have a problem with sharing her artwork with the general public, or anyone at all. Perhaps it was because she put so much of herself into her drawings and paintings; her sexuality, her confidence, fears, experiences, and hopes. Like it or not, she was propelled into the modern art world amongst other famous artists of her time: Marsden Hartley, Arthur Dove, John Marin and others. These people were intellectuals, sometimes anarchists, feminists, homosexuals, but always “considering the latest topics of human discourse (Hogrefe 61).” It was in this context that O’Keeffe and Stieglitz got to know each other. Alfred Stieglitz was a much older man; many years Georgia’s senior.

The artist had said that the man fell in love with her drawings long before he met her. Stieglitz was an unhappily married man, and his snobbish wife gave him an allowance from her share of her family’s brewery profits. With this, Stieglitz took budding artists and friends out to lunch, to help them out or gain connections for displays in 291. At first, the relationship between him and O’Keeffe was innocent; a patron and artist, a student and teacher, or perhaps even a father and daughter. Stieglitz’s obviously paternalistic role could have been a substitute for the role Georgia’s father played early in her life. Alfred took care of her by selling her works for the equivalent of a year’s living expenses, or other practical needs. O’Keeffe began to model for Stieglitz’s camera, and an enormous portfolio of breathtaking nude photography emerged after many years of accumulation.

Of course, Alfred’s wife Emmy did not find it particularly breathtaking to come across the pair in the middle of a sitting. Georgia had not been the first woman the older man had had an affair with, and this time his marriage was over for good. Stieglitz and O’Keeffe cohabited cramped New York City studio apartments, most often occupying separate beds. They had a strange relationship which consisted of similar intellects, much stubborn and violent argument, and an artistic partnership where each fed off the other’s creativity. Many biographers suggest that they were simply together because it was convenient and mutually beneficial, and they had few emotional ties. After all, why would a woman who had such lesbian tendencies suddenly attach herself to a man of such strong personality who seemed to dominate her? Stieglitz was a demanding hypochondriac who always needed care, right up to his dying day.

Theirs was an unusual union, and after he passed on, Georgia continued her life in earnest. This is far from the entire volume of Georgia O’Keeffe’s lifetime. It was a long, frequently lonely life, even when she was surrounded by people. She chose to isolate herself from a growing, modernizing country where every mark she put on paper supposedly represented the whole of the female gender. She sought to escape the criticism and pressure of the city, and to create artwork freely, with no limits or boundaries.

O’Keeffe never aligned herself with any particular movement, such as the cubists, surrealists, or expressionists. She simply painted what she saw, and the beauty of her reality existed in its perfect state in her own mind. Arts and Paintings.


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