The Lesser Known Work of Georgia O’Keefe

Growing up, I had a picture book entitled simply Georgia O’Keefe. My grandmother had gotten it for me only because Georgia O’Keefe and I share a first name, but as I read the semi-biographical picture book, I began to look up to O’Keefe.

I don’t remember the book perfectly, but I do remember how it always emphasized that Georgia O’Keefe was different and she was proud of it. On one page in particular it talked about how when everyone else put their hair in braids, Georgia let hers flow in the wind.

It was this kind of freedom and strength in who she was that I wanted to emulate. As I grew older, I continued to have a passing interest in Georgia O’Keefe. Whenever she would come up in art classes or I would see a piece of hers in a museum, I would remember her inspiring self confidence and a-typical life path.

Georgia O’Keefe is renowned for her nature paintings and the messages she hides within them. They evoke feminine messages and are unabashedly powerful. However, a part of her body of work that is often overlooked are the paintings she created while living in NYC. These hauntingly simple cityscapes reduce the commercialism and bustle of the Big Apple into a cold, geometric almost dystopian landscape.

While not particularly kind towards New York, these paintings do evoke a concrete feeling. Simply through the use of depth, simple shapes, and purposeful use of light, O’Keefe is able to clearly portray a feeling in her art.

Although not completely abstract, these paintings of O’Keefe’s are particularly inspirational to me heading into creating an abstraction of an Invisible City because she is able to portray so much emotion in such a pared down rendering of New York.

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