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 Diana Billings Art Blog


Women in art are so under represented. For centuries, women were not allowed to attend art schools or any kind of schooling, or even learn to read. To have an artist like Georgia O’Keeffe and be able to admire and respect her work is a wonderful experience.

Georgia O’Keeffe once said “I had to create an equivalent for what I felt about what I was looking at - not copy it.” You can see this in her artwork.

Georgia O’Keeffe was born in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin on November 15, 1887 and died on March 6, 1986, at almost 99 years old. Georgia had a life in art that consisted of teaching in her younger years to becoming the artist we know today. Georgia also had period of artistic drought. She spent much of her later life in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum is now located. One hour away from Santa Fe is where her home is, which is now a welcome centre and where you can tour her home and studio. I think this is a must see!

Georgias’ styles of art are known as Modernism, Precisianism and Abstractionism. Her art work is unique from other artists of her time. She believed she was the first American artist to practice pure Abstractionism. Georgias’ artwork of flowers are Abstractionism. Her flower paintings are just a small portion of her body of work. In 1928, her calla lily paintings, six in the series sold for $25,000, which was the largest amount for a group of paintings by a living American artist, ever purchased to this point.

Georgia O’Keeffes’ painting “Jimson Weed - White Flower #1” is the highest price painting sold by a woman artist, $44.4 million. This sold in November 2014, to the Crystal Bridge Museum, Brentonville, Arkansas.

Flowers being one of Georgias’ favourite subjects to paint, the Jimson flower she felt was an overlooked natural beauty of nature. She was quoted saying “When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for that 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.” Though throughout her life Georgia returned to painting flowers time and time again. Her flower paintings were often though of as erotic or highly sensual. She always disagreed with this and adamantly rejected this thinking. O’Keeffes’ early work with flowers showed a magnified look at the inner details of the flower, emphasizing the shape, colour, and bringing attention to the smallest details within the flower.

This was her goal to-show the beauty within. Georgia’s ability to describe the natural world around her is captured in the most beautiful style of Abstractionism, an incredible representation of Modern Art. Georgia’s artistic career was an exercise in describing the beauty of nature around her. “The wilderness and wonder of the world as I live in it.”

O’Keeffe was prolific, which I am finding is a commonality with many well known artist. She painted over 1000 painting and at least that in drawings, watercolours on paper, and sculptures. Throughout her life she painted many subjects such as still lives and landscapes. Her inspiration in New Mexico was her surroundings, mountains and architectural forms.

Late in life Georgia developed macular degeneration and was losing her site. She continued to work with the help of an assistant. When Georgia passed away she left an estate worth $65 million. She was one of the world highest paid women artist.

We are so fortunate to have an artist of her skill and imagination to enjoy so much. There is so much more I could have written about Georgia. I hope you can take some inspiration from her. She had determination and an unparalleled skill. I found that there are many biographies about Georgia O’Keeffe. I will have to find what the best is to read. Definitely on my reading list.


Awards: National Metal of Art, 1985. A metal for honouring artist.

Presidential Metal of Freedom, 1977. For her cultural artistic achievement.

Edward McDowell Metal, 1972. For her outstanding contribution to American Culture.

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