Georgia O’Keeffe was born
November 15, 1887 near Sun
Prairie, wisconsin into a family of dairy farmers. She was one of seven children. Her mother sent all of the girls to art classes. She did so well that they sent her to art school
–she attented the school of the Art
Institute of Chicago and the Art
Students League of New York
In 1908 she became discouraged with her work, quit painting and went to
Chicago to work as a commercial artist. She became a grade school art teacher in Texas and then taught art at West Texas A&M
University. In 1916, a friend took some of her drawings to a gallery owner in New York
City named Alfred Stieglitz
(he was also a well known photographer). Without her knowing, he put 10 of her drawings up in his gallery
(she wasn’t too happy!)
Within a short time, Alfred and Georgia were married.
Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O’Keeffe
Blue and Green Music (1921)
Georgia spent time with
Alfred’s friends, who were all artists. Inspired by them, she began to paint again, this time in oil instead of watercolors as she had done before. She made large paintings of things from nature seen up close
– as if through an magnifying glass (or camera lens).
In 1924, she made her first large-scale flower painting,
Petunia no. 2. By the mid-1920s, she had become known as an important American artist, and her work brought high prices.
In 1928, six of her paintings of calla lilies sold for $25,000, the largest sum ever paid for a group of paintings by a living american artist.
Two Calla Lilies on Pink (1928)
Around 1928, georgia felt the need to travel to inspire new art. She traveled to Taos, New
Mexico with a friend and fell in love with the canyons, deserts & mountains of the area.
From then on, she spent part of every year working in New Mexico.
Her second summer there, she started collecting and painting bones, and started painting the architecture and landscape she found there.
Pelvis with the distance (1943)
Oriental Poppies (1927)
In 1932, she suffered a nervous breakdown over a large project that wasn’t going on schedule. She didn’t paint again until 1934 when she visited Ghost ranch in New
Mexico. She decided to live there and bought a house in 1940.
White Flower on Red Earth (1943)
Ranchos Church (1929)
Ghost ranch inspired many of O’Keeffe’s paintings. She bought a
Ford Model A and learned to drive so she could go exploring in the canyons and desert
–she was a loner.
Summer Days (1936)
One of her most famous paintings
The place in the Shadow (1942)
In 1945, she bought a second house a few miles away at Abiquiu, which became the setting for many of her later paintings. She liked to be up close to the subject she was painting, which meant she often painted in wind so strong she had to hold onto her easel, and sun so hot she had to crawl under her car to get some shade.
While Georgia was in New Mexico in july of 1946, Stieglitz suffered a stroke. She went back to New York to be with him when he died on July 13,
1946. Shortly after, she moved permanently to New Mexico. She continued to paint the lanscape around her until 1972, when at age 84 she realized her eyesight was failing, and she stopped painting.
Georgia O’Keeffe home
& studio was designated a National Historic
Landmark in 1998
In 1977, President Gerald Ford presented Georgia with the
Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor awarded to and
In 1985, she was awarded the
National Medal of Arts.
Georgia O’Keeffe died in Santa Fe,
New Mexico on March 6, 1986 at the age of 98. In accordance with her final wishes, she was cremated and her ashes were scattered into the wind from the top of a mountain in New
In 1997, The Georgia O’Keeffe museum was established in Santa Fe to carry on her legacy, its assets include her paintings, photographs, library, house and property.