Georgia Totto O'Keeffe, 1887 - 1986

portrait of Georgia O'Keeffe
Photo by Alfred Stieglitz (1918)

Born: 15 November 1887, Sun Prairie, Wisconsin
Died: 6 March 1986, Santa Fe, New Mexico

O'Keeffe decided to pursue a career in art at age ten and took lessons from a local artist. Her family moved to Virginia but Georgia stayed in Wisconsin for a while, going to three high schools before graduating in 1905. She studied painting at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Art Students' League at New York, then returned to Chicago and worked in commercial art. She had stopped painting for a while and was teaching school at Amarillo, Texas when she sent some landscape drawings to a friend at New York City. The friend showed them to gallery owner Alfred Stieglitz who, without O'Keeffe's knowledge, staged her first gallery show in 1916. At first upset by this, she allowed the show to continue and moved to New York the next year, married Stieglitz. She was stifled by family and friends at the Steiglitz summer home at Lake George, New York and spent the summer of 1929 at Santa Fe, New Mexico; she spent part of each year painting in New Mexico for twenty years and returned there after Steiglitz died in 1946. In 1972 O'Keeffe's eyesight was severely degraded by macular degeneration, leaving her with only peripheral vision. She stopped painting in oils but continued to do some work in pencil, charcoal, and clay until 1984. She moved from her ranch to Santa Fe in 1984. President Ford awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and she was given the National Medal of arts in 1985. O'Keeffe was able to move in close to nature and give us a rich and subtle look at things, particularly flowers, that is both precisely pictorial and abstract.

Biography from Wikipedia and O'Keeffe Museum

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