Modern American Artist 1887-1986
by Linda Morand
Known for her oil paintings of the desert landscapes of New Mexico, urban views of New York City and powerful, monumental flower images, Georgia O'Keeffe is remembered as an early independent practitioner of abstraction in the American Modernist art movement.
Her iconic large-scale flower images have influenced the work of other artists, such as Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party, in their bold feminist allusion to the female genital form. O'Keeffe rejected this Freudian interpretation of her art, intending that her flower paintings be appreciated only for their unique close-up view of the subject. By focusing in on small details and depicting them in a monumental way, the flowers reflect the spiritual in the immensity of nature.
Her paintings commanded high prices in her lifetime, which was and still is unusual for women artists. O'Keeffe wanted to be known, not as a woman artist, nor a feminist artist, but as an artist.
When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it's your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not.
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.
I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for.
I often painted fragments of things because it seemed to make my statement as well as or better than the whole could.
I feel there is something unexplored about woman that only a woman can explore.