Woman of the Day – Georgia O’Keeffe

ALT: Green Party Women Celebrating Women’s History Month

Day 3: Woman of the Day, Georgia O’Keeffee


On March 6, 1986 the American painter and one of the most influential figures in Modernism art, Georgia O’Keeffe died at the age of 98yrs old.

Best known for her large-format paintings, for over seven decades Georgia sought to capture the emotion and power of objects through abstracting the natural world and her work is still widely admired today.

Born in 1887 in Wisconsin, America, Georgia grew up on a dairy farm. She received art lessons at home as a child. At school her teachers recognised and cultivated her ability to draw and paint. She became determined to become a professional artist.


After school she attended the Art Institute of Chicago and studied at the Art Students League. When she attended a summer course for art teachers at the University of Virginia she was introduced to the ideas of Arthur Wesley Dow. He believed in the Modernist idea that the subject of artists’ work should be their personal ideas and feelings and that these could be visualized most effectively through the harmonious arrangement of line, colour, an notan (a Japanese system of arranging lights and darks).

Some of Georgia’s early work came to the attention of photographer Alfred Stieglitz. He offered to support her painting financially. An affair ensued and they were married in 1924.

Stieglitz worked hard to promote Georgia and her art. However, he narrowly defined her work primarily in terms of sex. He declared her imagery “the visual manifestation of a sexually liberated woman”. Georgia objected strongly to his interpretations of her work and the sexualized public image that Stieglitz created of her. She proceeded to move away from abstraction and redefined herself as a painter of recognisable forms, for which she remains best known today.

Georgia was also a member of the National Woman’s Party, a radical feminist organisation of the early 20th century in America. Members rejected the notion that women inherently possess a set of particular character traits and stereotypes.

“I feel there is something unexplored about woman that only a woman can explore.”


The Art Story


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