Art History, Artists, On this day..., Painters

On this day… was born Georgia O’Keeffe

Georgia O’Keeffe was an American artist. She is considered the mother of American Modernism and one of the most significant artists of 20th century. She is best known for her paintings of flowers, skulls and New Mexico landscapes.

She was a legend at the beginning of the 1920s, known for her independent spirit and female role model, and for her dramatic and innovative works of art.

O’Keeffe painted about 200 flowers. In the 1920s they were large-scale depictions of flowers, as if seen through a magnifying lens, an example is Oriental Poppies.

Oriental Poppies (Photo credit: Wikiart)

Her first large-scale painting was Petunia nº2 in 1924 which was exhibited in 1925. By making magnified depictions she provided it with a sense of awe and emotional intensity.

petunia-ii - 1924
Petunia nº2 (Photo credit: Wikiart)

It is said that some of these works, as Black Iris (1926), evoke a veiled representation of the female genitalia while also accurately depicting the centre of an iris. O’Keeffe firmly denied the Freudian interpretations of her art.

Black Iris (Photo Credit: Wikiart)

More than 500 examples of her work are in over 100 public collections in North and Central America, Europe and Asia. Another important detail of her career is that since the first time she exhibited her work in 1916 (New York), it has been included in several exhibitions around the world. Some were solo exhibitions.

Men put me down as the best woman painter… I think I am one of the best painters.


  • Georgia O’Keeffe was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters and Fellow of the Academy of Arts and Sciences.
  • In 1977, she was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honour awarded to American civilians.
  • She was awarded the National Medal of Arts by the president Ronald Reagan.
  • In 1993 she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
  • In 1996, the U.S. Postal Service issued a 32-cent stamp honouring O’Keeffe
  • In 2006, a fossilized species of archosaur was named Effigia okeeffeae (“O’Keeffe’s Ghost”), “in honour of Georgia O’Keeffe for her numerous paintings of the badlands at Ghost Ranch and her interest in the Coelophysis Quarry when it was discovered”.


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