Today is the birthday of Georgia O'Keeffe, a painter known for her magnified blossoms and stunning southwestern landscapes. The American artist would turn 125 years old if she were still alive today.
This undated file photo released by the Baltimore Museum of Art shows the Georgia O'Keefe painting "Pink Tulip," 1926. (AP Photo/Georgia O'Keefe Museum)
O'Keeffe was born in Wisconsin in 1887, and began her career in 1905 at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. After spending a year of study in the Midwest, she then left for the renown Art Students League in New York City, where she quickly gained recognition as a top student under Impressionist painter, William Merritt Chase. Despite her early successes in school, O'Keeffe would not break onto the New York art scene for several more years, instead spending the latter part of her 20s as an art teacher.
Throughout this period, O'Keeffe focused on painting and charcoal abstractions, relying on line and color manipulation introduced to her by American painter and printmaker Arthur Wesley Dow. In 1916, O'Keeffe delivered some of these charcoals to the then famous photographer Alfred Stieglitz, a decision that would spark not only her prolific art career but also her lifelong marriage. That year, Stieglitz exhibited 10 of O'Keeffe's paintings followed by a solo exhibit a year later.
Together, Stieglitz and O'Keeffe embarked on a life spent partially in New York and partially in New Mexico, the latter representing a region prominently featured in the female artist's famous oil paintings. While Stieglitz favored black and white photography, O'Keeffe turned to large-scale renderings of natural forms at close range, capturing the intricate textural details of flowers and desert objects which resembled the female form to many curious observers.
Georgia O'Keeffe next to her original oil paintings during a press review of her 121 paintings, watercolors, and drawings on exhibit in New York. (AP Photo)
Though her paintings did not directly address feminism, O'Keeffe's career was idolized by contemporary ideologues like Judy Chicago for her pioneering role as the lone female artist in a male-dominated field. She received a seat in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was the first female artist to have a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan. Later in her life, O'Keeffe moved permanently to Santa Fe, continuing to practice watercolor and sculpture well into her 90s. In 1986, the legendary female artist died at the age of 98, two years shy of a century on this Earth.
In honor of Ms. O'Keeffe's birthday, scroll through a slideshow of images from “Georgia O’Keeffe and The Faraway: Nature and Image," an exhibit on display now until May 5th, 2013 at the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum. Let us know how you are celebrating the great female artist's anniversary in the comment section.
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