Georgia O’Keeffe is probably the best known woman artist today, at least in the United States. Her images, especially of flowers, appear on calendars, posters, note cards, and many other products. She is one of the few painters who’s become almost a household name; it would be hard to find a person who has never heard of her or seen one of her images.
Georgia O'Keeffe, Grey Hills
She painted flowers as no one else did: by getting deep inside them, exposing their soul, the sensuality along with the delicacy, finding the infinite in a tiny stamen, eternity in a petal. And she found beauty in ordinary, even unpleasant subjects: an old barn, a plain adobe church, an animal’s skull. Though she lived and worked much of her life in New Mexico, her career really began in New York, where her work was first exhibited by her future husband,
photographer Alfred Stieglitz, who owned an art gallery. It came as a surprise to me the first time I saw one of her city paintings in a museum.
O'Keeffe, New York Night and City Night
She eventually bought a ranch in New Mexico and spent much of her time there, but she and Stieglitz remained married and she was at his side when he died in 1946. She herself lived to the age of ninety-eight and died in Santa Fe in 1986, and her ashes were scattered over a mesa in New Mexico near her ranch. It seems like an appropriate ending for one who loved and mastered the beauty of nature.
Portrait of Georgia O'Keeffe, by Alfred Stieglitz