One of the most important painters of the 20th century, known as the Mother of American Modernism.
Born on a farm in Wisconsin, Georgia Totto O’Keeffe was one of seven children. Both of her grandmothers were painting, and she received art lessons at home from a young age.
She later studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and in New York, and afterward supported herself by teaching art in South Carolina and Texas.
Uninspired by the mainstream approach to art, she embarked on a journey to find her own visual language by experimenting with abstracts.
O’Keeffe posted her drawings to Anita Pollitzer, a friend in New York, who showed them to the most influential gallerist at the time – Alfred Stieglitz. He exhibited them with enthusiasm and without her knowledge. When O’Keeffe traveled from Texas to reprimand him, the two fell in love and later got married, and he became instrumental in promoting her career with solo shows almost every year until his death.
The critics appreciated her, collectors bought her paintings, and major museums around the United States exhibited her work.
Her painting style is considered iconic, innovative, and original.
Her 2000 works featured landscapes, bones, cityscapes. Yet she was most famous for her paintings of flowers. O’Keeffe rejected critics’ sexual interpretations of the flowers as symbols of female genitalia.
At the age of 62, she moved to live in her spiritual home – New Mexico and continued working even as she started losing her sight.
When she died at the age of 98, her ashes were scattered on top of Cerro Pedernal mountain – that could be seen from her house.
“I feel there is something unexplored about woman that only a woman can explore”
More Interesting Anecdotes:
- She was 28 when she met 52 years old Stieglitz. In her later years in New Mexico, she had an intimate relationship with her assistant artist Juan Hamilton, 58 years her junior.
- Her husband Stieglitz took more than 500 photographs of her, many of them nudes, making “the greatest love poem in the history of photography”.
- She never had children.
- She used to work in her car, allowing her to paint nature in any weather.