Although Georgia O’Keeffe is a household name, many don’t know much about her. The iconic artist is both a feminist icon and a nature enthusiast, inspiring many even today.
Known as the mother of American modernism, O’Keeffe painted enlarged flowers, New York skyscrapers, and the New Mexican landscape, a place where she spent much of her time. Clearly, she had a wide variety of interests and passions.
Here at Wanderlust, we’re particularly inspired by her floral depictions, as you can see in many of our pieces. So, we thought why not dive a bit deeper into the life of Georgia and explore some of our favorite O’Keeffe paintings.
Georgia - The Artist
O’Keeffe was a formally trained artist, starting her art education in Chicago and later moving on to New York. However, she felt stifled by the idea of copying nature exactly. She preferred to express nature in unexpected ways.
To earn a living, she started as a commercial illustrator from 1908 to 1910, moving on to teaching art from 1911 to 1918. During this period, she met Arthur Wesley Dow who encouraged her to add her personal style to her paintings - something she felt was missing from art education at the time.
Soon after, she began to paint using watercolours and charcoals and in 1917, Alfred Stieglitz was the first art dealer to exhibit her work. The two eventually married.
She lived together with Stieglitz in New York, working as a professional artist until 1929. It was then that she moved to Santa Fe (initially commuting back and forth between the two cities) which inspired her series of New Mexican paintings of animal skulls and desert landscapes.
After Stieglitz’s death, O’Keeffe remained in New Mexico for the remainder of her life, creating art well into old age. Now, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum is alive and well in Santa Fe.
O’Keeffe’s Floral Period
Her close-ups of flowers are our favorite to come from O’Keeffe. And these images are her greatest tie to feminism. Many found the paintings to represent female genitalia which many women took as a statement in support of women’s rights and power.
Interestingly, O’Keeffe denies this was ever her intention. Still, these images are truly remarkable, as this vantage point of a flower was never seen in paintings before.
In particular, Visions of Hawaii, Yellow Sweet Peas, Pink Sweet Peas, and Pink and Yellow Tulips have inspired us here at Wanderlust Vintage.
From the vibrant colours to the subject matter itself, O’Keeffe’s floral period was not just unique. There’s also something so captivating about seeing something ordinary in a totally new way.
That’s how we feel about vintage clothing. Garments from another era are completely transformed when we look at them from a different point of view. That’s what makes fashion and art so exciting.
What about Georgia O’Keeffe inspires you the most? What’s your favorite O’Keeffe painting? How can you see O’Keeffe’s influence in the pieces you’ve found on the Wanderlust Vintage site? Let us know - we’d love to hear from you.