Georgia O’Keeffe

As part of May’s celebration of all things feminine and floral, we take a closer look at the life and work of Georgia O’Keeffe. The American painter is best known for her large-scale studies of flowers, which are often closely compared to the female. O’Keeffe wanted to create a visual language that she could express her ideas and feelings through; her abstract paintings and sketches share her unique vision with others. When she made her artistic debut in 1916, she was immediately recognised as a trailblazing artist and today she is considered as an American art pioneer.

Jimson Weed, 1936

Jimson Weed, 1936

I found I could say things with colour and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way - things I had no words for

After studying at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she attended the Art Students League in New York, where she studied under the renown artist William Merritt Chase. At the time O’Keeffe lacked the confidence to pursue a career as a commercial artist and became an art teacher. However, her work was noticed by international photographer and gallery owner Alfred Stieglitz, who organised O’Keeffe’s first exhibition in New York and later became her husband.

Her first flower painting was of purple petunia, she had grown them in her garden to study their form and vibrant hues. O’Keeffe’s large-scale flower studies allow the viewer to look at the blooms close up as if they are being viewed through a magnifying glass, which enabled her to emphasize the shape and colour while highlighting the small details of the flowers.

 
Petunia, 1924

Petunia, 1924

Georgia O'Keeffe by Ralph Looney

Georgia O'Keeffe by Ralph Looney

When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not

As well as flowers, landscapes became a strong occurring theme in her work, in 1929 O'Keeffe traveled to New Mexico and began an inspirational love affair with the visual scenery of the state. For the next 20 years, she would spent several months a year working in New Mexico; she became increasingly interested in the forms of animal skulls and the stunning landscapes of the Southwest. The themes of flowers, landscapes and skulls became O’Keeffe’s signature and she is well known as an iconic artist who always stayed true to her own vision and personal style.

O’Keeffe and Pelvis Series Red With Yellow, 1945

O’Keeffe and Pelvis Series Red With Yellow, 1945

GET THE LOOK

Celebrate the work of Georgia O’Keeffe with our wild and natural bouquets

The Witching Hour Flower Bouquet

All Saints Flower Bouquet

Gypsy Heart Flower Bouquet