The Life and Art of Georgia O’Keeffe: a Pioneer of American Modernism

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Georgia O'Keeffe (November 15, 1887 – March 6, 1986) in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. At the tender age of ten, O'Keefe's desire was to become a painter. At that age, she probably was unaware that she was destined to excel in the world of art and become famous for her artistic abilities, sculptures, and many other capacities. Her artistic abilities began to blossom during her teen years, followed by training at renowned art institutes in Chicago and New York.

In New York, O'Keeffe studied an art technique called "mimic." The mimetic style is created by visualizing precisely what the artist has seen. Mimetic artwork was unlike abstract paintings, which would advance her creativity and perception of art. O'Keeffe began experimenting with her art, breaking from realism and developing her own visual expression through more abstract masterpieces.

As she conducted various experiments with her art, O'Keeffe became known as the foremost artist to develop genuine concepts of abstracts. As her career in art began to expand, it became evident that her style of art was modernism. She showed individualism as a woman when that was not popular. She was her own person and didn't allow herself to be sucked in by the traditional art community. She did her own thing.
Georgia's teaching career as an art instructor was from 1912 to 1914 in Amarillo, Texas.

In 1916, she became an instructor at West Texas State Normal School in Canyon. It was during this time that some of her sketches were sent to Alfred Stieglitz, a distinguished photographer in New York. He exhibited them in 1916 without O'Keeffe's awareness or approval at his 291 Gallery. This exhibit was a significant introduction to Georgia O'Keeffe's potential as a notorious artist.

Stieglitz created various photographs of O'Keeffe standing in front of her artwork. He also took camera shots of her unclothed showing explicit details. These photos were accounted as a statement to the public that O'Keefe was Stieglitz's mistress. Alfred Stieglitz divorced his wife in 1924 and married Georgia O'Keefe. Steiglitz was much older than O’Keefe. The marriage had infidelity problems initiated by Stieglitz, but they remained married until his death in 1946.

Today, O'Keefe is acknowledged as one of America's first abstract artists. Georgia O'Keefe was a modern artist of the 20th century. During this era (the 1860s – 1970s), Modern Art denotes the style and philosophy of the art produced during that era. The term is usually associated with art in which the traditions of the past have been thrown aside in a spirit of experimentation. Modern art began during the industrial revolution. It was a detachment from traditional uses, and it was also the time of photography's birth.

O'Keefe was associated with some of America's most distinguished early modernists—painters such as John Marin, Marsden Hartley, and Charles Demuth, and photographers such as Paul Strand and Edward J. Steichen, as well as influential art critics and writers. Their discussions about art, and the example of their work, both validated and influenced O'Keeffe's own work. O'Keefe and her contemporaries felt free to express their inner visions in their work. Art became more realistic and illustrated social issues and images from modern life.

In 1929 O'Keeffe took a vacation in Taos, New Mexico, and thought it was a great place. She returned there every summer because she found artistic inspiration there. Then when Stieglitz died in 1946, she went to live there. The paintings she did in New Mexico became some of her most famous. She is chiefly known for paintings of flowers, rocks, shells, animal bones, and landscapes in which she synthesized abstraction and representation. Her paintings present crisply contoured forms that are replete with subtle tonal transitions of varying colors. She often transformed her subject matter into powerful abstract images. New York Times critic Jed Perl, in 2004, described her paintings as both 'bold and hermetic, immediately appealing and unnervingly impassive.'

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, her fame grew. She traveled around the world and had major shows in the U.S., and won many awards. In 1976 her autobiography, 'Georgia O'Keeffe,' was a best seller, and the next year she received the Medal of Freedom from President Gerald Ford. In 1985 she received the Medal of the Arts from President Ronald Reagan. She died the next year at age 98 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. March 6, 1986.

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The Life and Art of Georgia O'Keeffe: A Pioneer of American Modernism. (2023, Mar 24). Retrieved June 24, 2024 , from

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