Are you a fan of famed American artist Georgia O’Keeffe? If so, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to see her work at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Founded in 1997, the museum celebrates the life and work of O’Keeffe through her artistic creations, notes and other memorabilia. What’s more, as Amir Landsman discovered on his recent visit, the museum houses the entire collection of the Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation. With well over 1,000 works of art created by O’Keeffe and nearly 3,000 total artworks in its collection, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum is a must-see for serious art students and fans of O’Keeffe.
What Makes Georgia O’Keeffe So Special?
As a young artist, O’Keeffe first came to national prominence when her close-up paintings of flowers in bloom gained popularity among the New York art scene. She was in her late 20s and living in New York City at the time of this breakthrough.
O’Keeffe’s sketches, drawings and paintings were critical to the development of the American Modernism school of art, and O’Keeffe herself has often been called the Mother of American Modernism. Her independent spirit and exceptional talent made her a standout in the art community and created demand for her landscapes, images of flowers and other still life subjects.
O’Keeffe’s New Mexico Connection
Georgia O’Keeffe had a significant impact on other artists during her time in New York and was influenced by them in turn. Alfred Stieglitz, a prominent New York gallery owner, was one of the major factors in O’Keeffe’s early success and provided her with exposure to some of the most innovative names in the art field. The Stieglitz Circle was composed of luminaries that included John Marin, Alfred Maurer, Abraham Walkowitz, Marsden Hartley and Arthur Dove. Stieglitz had extensive connections within the art world and was able to promote O’Keeffe’s stunningly original depictions of flowers, bones and stark landscapes to an eager audience of critics and patrons. The relationship between O’Keeffe and Stieglitz became progressively closer, and the couple married in 1924. In 1929, O’Keeffe moved to New Mexico and began a series of landscapes and still life paintings that are considered classic examples of the Modernism movement.
In 1938, O’Keeffe was asked to create two paintings for an ad campaign planned by the Hawaiian Pineapple Company. Cash flow difficulties and interest in travel motivated O’Keeffe to accept this offer and travel to the islands of Maui, Oahu, Hawaii and Kauai. Her works during this period focus on tropical plant life, Hawaiian fishhooks and other traditional elements of island living and are among the most beautiful of O’Keeffe’s paintings. She returned to New Mexico and the iconic flowers, bones and landscapes that made her a household name in the fine arts community. Until her death in 1986, Georgia O’Keeffe made her home at the Ghost Ranch retreat in New Mexico and painted numerous versions of the natural landscapes and geological features in the immediate area.
The simplicity and clarity of O’Keeffe’s work continues to attract new admirers and devotees like Amir Landsman. The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe provides opportunities for younger art fans to discover this unique artist and the natural world she depicted so well.