Searching for the Landscape

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“To create one’s world in any of the arts takes courage.” – Georgia O’Keeffe

Long Life Rich with Colors

Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) was a major figure in American art. She painted the flowers, animal bones, and landscapes for several decades, and these images became her signature.

She has a very individual style of painting and own artistic vision, synthesized modern European abstraction and the subjects of American tradition.

Inside Red Canna, 1919
Inside Red Canna, 1919
Georgia O'Keeffe 2
Music, Pink and Blue No. 2, 1918
Series I, No. 8, 1919
Series I, No. 8, 1919

Her style, changes and evolves during her career, was based on finding the essential, abstract forms in the subjects of her observation, and magnificent since for color, shape, and light.

It is interesting that subjects of her interest, landscapes, flowers, and bones were explored in series, or, in a series of series. She tested the pictorial possibilities of subjects in a sequence of three or four pictures produced in a one or over several years, or decades, and her work resulted with one subject in a dozen variations of pictures.

Here work after 30s, became richer with colors, forms, and themes inspired of her visits to New Mexico, what have influenced to her later work . She was painting until the 1970s, even when she almost complete loss of eyesight and ill health, remained true to the spirit of her art. She died in 1986, in Santa Fe at the age of 98.

We will keep our attention in this text on 3 topics from her work, flowers, bones and landscapes.

 

“Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven’t time, and to see takes time – like to have a friend takes time.” – Georgia O’Keeffe

 Jimson Weed, 1936
Jimson Weed, 1936
Petunias, 1925
Petunias, 1925
Squash Blossoms, 1925
Squash Blossoms, 1925

O’Keeffe’s flower paintings have often been called erotic, because of her passion for the transcendent. Bur her flowers are not only symbols of female sexuality, because her art has aspiration for the vivid and more universal sensation of a joyful.

 

“I decided that if I could paint that flower in a huge scale, you could not ignore its beauty.” -Georgia O’Keeffe

Ram's Head, White Hollyhock - Hills, 1935
Ram’s Head, White Hollyhock – Hills, 1935
From the Faraway, Nearby
From the Faraway, Nearby
Pelvis with the Distance, 1943
Pelvis with the Distance, 1943

Her interest in the scale of transcendence is really impressive In her paintings where she plays with their forms and sizes of bones using the various colors, what gives her original signature and way of seeing, but she takes serious chances with color, sometimes upsetting conventions of visual harmony in order to startle the eye into new kinds of seeing an meaning or “her bones often seem strangely alive, the flowers of the desert“.

 

“All the earth colors of the painter’s palette are out there in the many miles of badlands…” – Georgia O’Keeffe

Rust Red Hills
Rust Red Hills
Back of Marie's, 1930
Back of Marie’s, 1930
A Thoughtful Eye
A Thoughtful Eye

Her subjective impressions were interpreted in frequently colored paintings and represented important events on her artist’s personal and professional life. Subjects were taken from life and related specifically to the places where she had been. Her work is really imposing with value and with number, over the thousand paintings, and thousand drawings and watercolors on paper, and a few sculptures, have been documented in a catalogue in 1999, and many others which is very interesting, are unrecorded because she destroyed them.

“I find that I have painted my life – things happening in my life – without knowing.” – Georgia O’Keeffe