Happy New Year! How would you like to start 2024 in a new, creative way?
Every Wednesday and Saturday, we will be posting an installment of our book, Through an Artist’s Eyes: Learning to Live Creatively offering you a pathway to art and the vision of the artist. Enabling you to develop your own inner creativity and apply it to the personal cycle of everyday living!
II. The Journey to Art
Artistic Companion, Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986)
O’Keeffe was a key figure in twentieth century American art with her visions of nature, from flowers to landscapes. Born in 1887, she was hailed as one of the country’s leading women painters, although she preferred to be thought of as an artist first, regardless of gender. Art was always at the core of her peripatetic early life. She grew up in rural Wisconsin, then later in Williamsburg, Virginia, and she studied in New York and Chicago, but taught in Texas where she first realized her love of the West. She temporarily gave up her dream of being an artist for teaching, but in her late twenties she returned to her profession, creating a new and unique body of work. She was soon discovered by Alfred Stieglitz, an innovative art promoter and photographer himself, who became her mentor and later her husband. She spent much of her marriage split between New York, where she resided with her husband, and New Mexico which she considered her true spiritual and artistic home. By the time of her death in 1986, at age 98, she was internationally renowned, her striking poppies becoming an icon of the times.
What is an O’Keeffe?
O’Keeffe’s motto was “To fill the space of a painting in a beautiful way.” Nature, whether small or vast, flower or mountain, city or desert, is expressed in vibrant colors and forms that seem to flow and expand across the canvas or paper. The images in a number of her works of art can be almost super–realistic, easily recognizable, yet in other paintings indecipherably abstract. She magnifies a fragile rose, endowing it with strength and grace, flattens a horizon of clouds into a celestial sidewalk, and outlines the spreading branches of an autumn tree at the peak of its brilliance. Ultimately, she communicates with us using shapes and colors that, according to O’Keeffe, “are more exact to me than words.”
The O’Keeffe Gallery
White Birch, 1925, oil on canvas, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas
Stop a moment and discover the heart of a birch tree, where its branches curve and intersect, in a graceful multi-colored network. At first glance, the bark appears solid white, but draw closer and you’ll see a touch of bluish highlights. Swirls of surrounding gold and orange leaves dance to their own choreography, merging and emerging from the autumnal foliage. Like beautiful decorations, they celebrate those last glorious moments just before their own fall.
One of Georgia O’Keeffe’s favorite trees was a white birch, which she painted several times during the 1920s. It stood near the dock at Lake George, a resort in the Adirondacks, where O’Keeffe and her photographer husband Alfred Stieglitz spent their summers and autumns far from the congestion and noise of their main residence in New York City. Trees would be a central theme of O’Keeffe”s artistry, no matter where she dwelled, whether amidst the urban density of New York or the desert expanses of New Mexico.
COMING NEXT: THE ART OF CONTEMPLATION
Copyright 2010: Joan Hart, Museum One, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced in any form or by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented including photocopying, recording and information storage and retrieval without permission from the publisher.