ArtsConnectEd/ArtsNet Minnesota

Art and Artists
 Berenice Abbott
 Giovanni Canal
 Frank Gehry
 Marsden Hartley
 Louis Lozowick
 Mexico (Nayarit)
 David Nash
 Georgia O'Keeffe
 Vincent van Gogh

Inner Worlds What is Art?   Identity Designing Spaces and Places
Georgia O'Keeffe
About the Artist

Georgia O'Keeffe was born on a farm in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, in 1887. Throughout her life she revered nature--its changing life cycles, beauty, delicacy, and harmony. As a young girl she loved to explore the fields around her home. She decided when she was 12 years old that she wanted to be an artist.

O'Keeffee took art classes with her sister. Her mother encouraged her to become an art teacher. After high school O'Keeffe continued to study art, first at the Art Institute of Chicago and then at Columbia University in New York. One of her teachers, Arthur Wesley Dow, taught her about the relationship of music to line and color.

O'Keeffee taught in Virginia and Amarillo, Texas, where in 1912, she was supervisor for art in the public schools. While she was living in Texas, a friend in New York showed some of O'Keeffee's drawings to a respected photographer, gallery owner, and magazine publisher named Alfred Stieglitz. The drawings depicted Texas landscapes. However, they were abstract, expressing the light and powerful beauty of the simple landscape. Stieglitz thought the works were very original and modern , and immediately wanted to exhibit them in his gallery. In 1916, she decided to move to New York to continue painting. She had several exhibitions in Stieglitz's gallery. The two were married in 1924.

By the early 1920s, O'Keeffe had become well known. She belonged to a circle of American modernists, including Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, and other artists. She painted many subjects, including New York City skyscrapers, rural landscapes, and large flower paintings.

In 1929, O'Keeffe visited Taos, New Mexico, with artist friends and was especially attracted to the stark, rugged country in the American Southwest. She visited often and in 1945 moved to New Mexico. She painted the desert and the animal bones she would collect on walks near her home. When she was in her eighties, O'Keeffee began working with clay. She continued to live and work in New Mexico until her death in 1986 at age 98.

Vocabulary Terms

abstract--Art that looks as if it contains little or no recognizable or realistic forms from the physical world. Focus on formal elements such as colors, lines, or shapes. Artists often "abstract" objects by changing, simplifying, or exaggerating what they see.

modern, modernism--In art history, this term refers to the philosophies of art made in Europe and the United States during a period roughly from the 1860s through the 1970s when certain artists began to take radical steps away from traditional art in order to be deliberately different, critical, and often dissenting from the dominant official taste. Modern art or modernism is characterized by changing attitudes about art, an interest in contemporary events as subjects, personal artistic expression, and freedom from realism. Modernism can be seen as artists' attempts to come to terms with urban, industrial, and secular society that emerged during the 19th century in Western society.

[ Return to the TOP of the page ]

Themes, Resources, Participants, Sitemap, Help

Discussion Questions/Activities, About the Artist, About the Art, Teacher Lessons

Inner Worlds | What Is Art? | Environment | Identity | Designing Spaces and Places
About the Art | About the Artist | Discussion Questions/Activities | Teacher Lessons