Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986) is undoubtedly one of the greatest figures of North American art of the twentieth century.

In the 1920s, she participated in the advent of American modernism. In the 1930s, she took part in the search for identity that marked the United States and in the 1960s, Georgia O'Keeffe became a pioneer of abstract painting also called "hard edge".

Discover 12 things about this extraordinary artist.

Art Shortlist
by Art Shortlist - September 27, 2021

1 - Art entered early in her life

Georgia O'Keeffe was born on November 15, 1887 on a farm in Wisconsin to a father of Irish descent and a mother of Hungarian descent.

From an early age, Georgia was passionate about art. Between 1905 and 1906, she studied at the prestigious Art Institute of Chicago.

Portrait of Georgia O'Keeffe, Alfred Stieglitz, 1918

Between 1907 and 1908, she continued her training at the Art Students League of New York, her teacher was William Merritt Chase (1849-1916), one of the greatest impressionist painters of the country.

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2 - She gave up her project to become an artist

In 1908, she learned that her mother was suffering from tuberculosis and at the same time her father went bankrupt, she understood that she would not be able to continue her artistic studies.

Georgia began to doubt her ability to become an artist, so she decided to stop painting and get a job to eat. In 1910 she took a job as a commercial artist in Chicago and the following year she taught art classes at Chatham Episcopal Institute in Virginia, which kept her in direct contact with art.

3 - 4 years later, she began to paint again

The year 1912 marked a new beginning for Georgia O'Keeffe, she returned to painting more than ever by attending the summer classes of Alon Bement at the University of Virginia. Bement introduced her to the principles of Arthur Wesley Dow's harmonious compositions.

Left: Series I White & Blue Flower Shapes, Georgia O'Keeffe, 1919 - Right: Inside Red Canna, Georgia O'Keeffe, 1919

From then on, Georgia O'Keeffe focused on elements such as line, shadows and colors, and her oil paintings became the stage for her pictorial research.

In 1914, she got a little closer to Arthur Wesley Dow by following his teaching at the Teachers College of Columbia University.

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4 - Georgia O'Keeffe married Alfred Stieglitz

In 1916, her photographer friend Anita Pollitzer sent some of Georgia O'Keeffe's charcoal drawings to Gallery 291, run by the great photographer Alfred Stieglitz.

The famous photographer and art dealer fell in love with the drawings and agreed to exhibit them. The following year, he even devoted a solo exhibition to Georgia.

No. 8 - Special, Georgia O'Keeffe, 1916

This is how O'Keeffe and Stieglitz began their courtship. The American painter moved to New York in 1918, they fell in love and married in 1924.

The two artists will support each other in their respective art, Georgia will be the muse of Alfred, the latter took more than 350 photographic portraits of his wife.

Alfred Stieglitz organized several exhibitions of Georgia O'Keeffe's art, these public presentations made her one of the most prominent artists in the United States between the two world wars.

5 - Her favorite subjects

Georgia O'Keeffe was inspired by natural forms that were observed up close. Her art is often associated with the giant flowers for which she is famous and the representation of skyscrapers and more generally of urban landscapes.

Ram's Head, White Hollyhock-Hills, Georgia O'Keeffe, 1935

The artist was also interested in the barns of Lake George and the cattle bones she found while walking through desert landscapes.

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6 - She was the first female artist to exhibit at MoMA

In 1929, the MoMA, which had just been inaugurated, exhibited a selection of works by Georgia O'Keeffe, on this occasion, she became the first woman exhibited in this great New York museum.

Oriental Poppies, Georgia O'Keeffe, 1927

She was also the first woman to be honored with a retrospective in the largest American museums: the Chicago Museum in 1943 and the MoMA in 1946.

7 - She owned a house in a remote part of New Mexico

Between 1929 and 1984, she acquired a property in the Ghost Ranch area, more precisely in Abiquiú, New Mexico.

She was fascinated by the area and its near-desert landscape.

Pelvis with the distance, Georgia O'Keeffe, 1943

Here's what she said in 1942: "Such a beautiful, untouched lonely feeling place, such a fine part of what I call the 'Faraway'."

8 - She wrote an autobiography

In 1976, Georgia O'Keeffe was struck by age-related vision problems that prevented her from painting and drawing to her heart's content.

The White Calico Flower, Georgia O'Keeffe, 1931

Nevertheless, she did not give up and even wrote an autobiographical book that became a best seller.

9 - She lived to the age of 98

A fighter, this is how we could define the American artist. After her 90th birthday, her health began to fail her.

Black Mesa Landscape New Mexico, Out Back of Marie's II, Georgia O'Keeffe, 1930

In 1984, she moved to Santa Fe where she died on March 6, 1986 at 98 years old.

10 - At least 900 paintings to her credit

Autumn Leaves - Lake George, N.Y., Georgia O'Keeffe, 1924

Georgia O'Keeffe's art, which is based on a keen observation of nature, has had a profound effect on modern art, standing apart from the existing artistic trends of the 20th century.

11 - A museum dedicated to the artist opened its doors in the USA in 1997

The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum was inaugurated in Santa Fe 11 years after her death.

Misti - A Memory, Georgia O'Keeffe, 1957

The museum was made possible thanks to the precious assets bequeathed by the American painter at her death.

12 - In 2021, the Centre Pompidou organized the first retrospective on Georgia O'Keeffe in France

From September 8 to December 6, 2021, the Centre Pompidou in Paris presents an exceptional exhibition on Georgia O'Keeffe.

Black Door with Red, Georgia O'Keeffe, 1954

A hundred paintings, photographs, drawings that trace his career are to be discovered, a first in France!