Who Is Georgianna O'Keeffe?

By Tiara

Born in New York City, artist Georgia (Nell) Kiesling was often described as having an artistic eye at a very young age. Her mother encouraged her to pursue art and she eventually gave up trying to get her daughter to choose another career path.

O’Keeffe would go onto create some of the most recognizable works in modern art. She is well known for painting flowers, landscapes and still lifes. Many consider her work to be masterpieces that showcase her ability to use color beautifully while also incorporating shapes and patterns.

Her best-known pieces include bright colors and geometric lines mixed with soft curves and textures. These features are balanced out by her use of light and dark areas to emphasize shape or feature potentials.

She would perfect these styles into what many refer to as “naive,” or natural looking paintings. This includes shades of browns, oranges and greens along with rounded forms and blurred edges.

Marries Alfred Stieglitz

how did georgia o'keeffe became famous

After meeting in March of 1915 at New York City’s Art Students League, artist Georgia O’Keefe fell head over heels for photographer Alfred Stieglitz. Eight months later, they got married in his apartment with just two guests – his close friend writer Pauline Mathews and her husband.

It was an art-world wedding that made both artists famous.

Stieglitz had been encouraging O’Keefe to pursue artistic expression since she first attended his classes several years earlier. He knew he wanted to work with her as soon as he saw her paintings but she wasn’t so sure about him.

O’Keefe thought most photographers were more interested in taking pictures of pretty things than telling their subjects how to pose or talking through ideas for new projects. But after their first few meetings, she changed her mind.

"I think it would be fun to take some photographs together," she told him during one session. "And I have a feeling we'd get along well.

Moves to New York

how did georgia o'keeffe became famous

After years of traveling, studying art, and exploring new landscapes, Georgia O’Keeffe returned home to Arizona in 1925. She was 27-years-old.

It had been almost ten years since she first started painting seriously, and now that she did, she wanted to make her career out of it. In fact, she already had!

O’Keeffe began submitting her work to exhibitions at least five years earlier, when she was just twenty one. Since then, she earned many awards for her artistic talent and creativity, including three Presidential Medals from US President Calvin Coolidge and two National Paintings Awards.

But it wasn’t until after she moved back home that O’Keeffe really found success as an artist. That’s why it's so important to understand how she became famous.

She created some of her most recognizable works while living in Arizona, but it wasn't until she made the big move to New York City that she truly broke through.

In 1932, O’Keeffe accepted a position working with The Macbeth Gallery in Manhattan. It didn’t take long before people were talking about her. Her paintings were striking, bold, and beautifully composed. They also garnered lots of attention and praise.

And they still do today.

Publishes her first book

how did georgia o'keeffe became famous

Born in New Mexico, Georgianna Frances O’Keeffe was raised by artistic parents. Her father was an artist who painted still lifes of fruits and vegetables. Her mother sewed beautifully made clothes that she sold at marketplaces.

O’Keeffe showed early signs of talent when she was very young. She would draw pictures with crayons while playing make-believe games. At just eight years old, she wrote and published her first children’s story called “The Little Engine That Could.” In it, a little engine must overcome many challenges to bring home a prize.

As she grew up, O’Keeffe continued to show off her talents by creating intricate art pieces. These included flowers, landscapes, and still life paintings. While some people may feel compelled to frame their artwork and put it away, O’Keeffe did not. Instead, she gave much of this work away so other artists could use it for inspiration.

In 1917, O’Keeffe left New Mexico behind her to pursue her dreams full time. Before long, she was recognized as one of America’s most influential creative artists.

Her famous works include vibrant flower studies, large scale nature scenes, and geometrical compositions. Many consider her red poppies to be her signature piece.

Creates her famous paintings

how did georgia o'keeffe became famous

As we know, artist Georgia O’Keefe is considered one of the most important artists of the 20th century. She painted still lifes, landscapes and flowers — all with bold colors and geometric shapes.

Her use of bright color and shape was striking and influenced many other artists. For example, some say she inspired Andy Warhol to start his career by painting similar scenes.

But how did this artist get so popular? What made people come back for more time after time? And what does she tell us about being successful in life?

It comes down to something that she calls “the figure-ground principle.” This theory says that when someone looks at your work, they will pay attention to the figures (like a flower or a tree) rather than the ground (like the empty space around the plant.

When you look at O’Keefe’s paintings, you can see that she mastered this concept! By using it as a basis, her style emerged.

Moves to New Mexico

how did georgia o'keeffe became famous

After her husband died, artist Georgia O’Keeffe moved into his house in Abiquiu, New Mexico with their two children. He had left it and its contents to her before he passed away, so she decided to keep what she wanted and give or sell the rest.

O’Keeffe was known for exploring new styles and techniques when painting, making her work very popular now. She also experimented with mediums and textures while creating paintings of flowers and landscapes.

Her best-known works are those that feature large expanses of color and lines that seem to go on forever. These qualities make her art feel vibrant and energetic!

She received many awards and major recognitions for her work, including three Presidential Medals from Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy. In 1980, she became one of only 15 people ever awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Jimmy Carter.

Overall, Georgia O’Keeffe is well loved and respected as an artistic genius.

Has her work become popular?

how did georgia o'keeffe became famous

While many consider her to be a master artist, how much recognition she received as an artist is quite impressive. It has been more than 70 years since her first solo exhibition in New York City, and yet she still receives constant attention from both critics and fans alike.

O’Keefe’s style was never too flashy or over-the-top, making it very accessible to anyone who loves art. Her landscapes are known for their bold use of color, shapes, lines, and textures.

It is not uncommon to see O’Keeffe’s works displayed in museums all around the world. She has had exhibitions at The Art Institute of Chicago, London’s Tate Gallery, and Berlin’s Guggenheim Museum among others.

Her most famous paintings include Flowers, Morning Light, and West Texas Harlequins which can be seen in several museum collections across America and Europe.

Why did her paintings become so famous?

how did georgia o'keeffe became famous

After she was commissioned to paint some flowers, artist Tom Ross asked if he could take your average flower and make it into an abstract painting. She agreed! He then took several of her nature studies and re-painted them as large canvasses with bright colors and shapes that stuck in your mind.

Her first solo show happened at The Art Institute of Chicago in 1933. It was there where people began to recognize her talent and ask about her style. People started referring to this new art form as “Georgia O’Keeffe inspired.”

Since then, her work has been featured in many museums all over the world and she has won nearly every major prize given out for artistic excellence.

Lessons learned

how did georgia o'keeffe became famous

As we discussed in our article, The Life of Georgia O’Keeffe, she was not your average professional artist. She did not have easy marketable qualities such as being very photogenic or having rich parents that could buy you art supplies.

Instead, she worked hard to achieve her success and create engaging artwork that people loved to look at.

She focused more on painting what she saw instead of trying to paint something defined, which is why many of her works are still striking years later.

There are several things artists can take away from her career path and style. In this article, we will discuss some of these lessons.