1887-1986, American painter, b. Sun Prairie, Wis. After working briefly as a commercial artist in Chicago, O'Keeffe abandoned painting until she began the study of abstract design with A. W. Dow at Columbia Univ. Teachers College. Thereafter she taught art in Texas. Her work was first exhibited in 1916 at the 291 Gallery of Alfred Stieglitz, whom she married in 1924. Immaculate, sculptural, organic forms painted in strong, clear colors predominate in her works. Having lived much of her life in New Mexico, O'Keeffe employs numerous Southwestern motifs such as bleached bones, barren, rolling hills, clouds, and desert blooms. Cow's Skull, Red, White, and Blue
(1931; Metropolitan Mus.) is a characteristic work. Her pristine abstract designs carry strong elements of sexual symbolism - especially her flower paintings, the most personal of her works. Using a photographic close-up technique, she reveals the exquisite recesses of calla lilies, orchids, and hollyhocks. Her later works are more purely abstract. O'Keeffe is represented nationally in major museums.
Used with permission.
The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition.
Copyright © 2001 Columbia University Press