There are seven recognized movements of painting, with some having sub-sections. The seven schools are:
iv. Expressionism and Fauvism.
Each of them has many famous artists and paintings. Modern art rooted in Europe and spread to other parts of the globe in a relatively small-time frame. Modern art is a term used to refer to creations that discarded past traditions to experiment in different styles to manifest moods and emotions.
Georgia O’Keeffe was one of the few ladies who ventured into a male dominant segment and proved her merit. Georgia’s painting ‘Jimson Weed’ sold for $44, 405, 000 in 2014. This was a world record for a female artist, and the amount was three times the previous auction record held by women.
Which Are the Famous Paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe?
Georgia was born on 15 Nov 1887 and lived to the old age of 100 years. During an envious career spanning over half a century, she received unprecedented acceptance as a modernist. Abstractionists were very rare, and she had stamped her signature on the sector. Her works encompassed Precisionism and surrealism besides abstraction. She was a pioneer in America who perfected pure abstraction.
Because of her achievements, it is a Herculean task to hit upon five of her famous paintings- most of her works are renowned and lauded by experts.
Below are five of her paintings from different periods on various topics. Each painting has a story of its own to tell. We have compiled a list of people, places, and instances that inspired the great abstractionist. Some of her inspirations are included towards the end of this.
5. Ladder To The Moon.
O’Keeffe had lived in north-central New Mexico in a 21, 000-acre retreat called Ghost Ranch. The place is famous for a quarry that has over a thousand dinosaur fossils preserved. She got inspiration from her photo clicked at the Ghost Ranch to paint the famous ‘Ladder To The Moon.’
In the photograph, she is seen sitting with the Cerro Pedernal mesa in the background. Her 1958 painting ‘Ladder to the Moon,’ shows a wooden ladder hung in an azure blue background. There is a half pale moon on top of the painting. The bottom shows a realistic depiction of the Pedernal.
Some experts like to call it Georgia’s self-portrait while others try to find religion in the picture.
4. Lake George Reflection.
O’Keeffe used to visit Alfred Stieglitz at his home in eastern New York. The outlying territory of that area had encouraged many painters, and there is a school of painting known as the Hudson River. Georgia illuminated this style in her avant-garde technique to create the famous ‘Lake George Reflection.’ She got married to an outstanding photographer in 1924.
Georgia completed painting this magnificent piece of art in 1922. This work highlighted the innate dissension of the artist’s basic character. It also acted as the major instrument in pivoting her legacy and defining her career. The intriguing work of art carried forward the tradition of Hudson River School artists in recording the Lake George’s spectacular charm and its adjacent panorama.
The uniqueness of this work is that it can be viewed from the landscape position or portrait position. This was exhibited for the first time in a New York art gallery in 1923. The painting was hung vertically by Georgia for that exhibition. The enigma regarding the orientation of the painting completes its abstract nature and representational characteristic. When viewed vertically, it reflects her fascination for magnified flower petals. Horizontal orientation of the 5 feet by 3 feet oil on canvas shows the undulating hillocks mirrored in the enchanting lake.
The Hudson School discipline adapted the sunsets and sunrises viewed from a water body and reproduced them to accentuate the sublime in nature. This became a topic for O’Keeffe in her 2004 book titled, ‘Visions of the sublime.’
She wrote in the book that,
“The concept of the sublime was a vibrant fountain of spirituality for many creative artists at a time when secularism reached its epitome”
Lake George Reflection was sold for $12, 933, 000 in 2016.
3. Ram’s Head, White Hollyhock-Hills.
In 1976 Georgia O’Keeffe wrote that the Ram’s Head at Ghost Ranch fascinated her beyond words can explain. She climbed and rode over them, looked at them for weeks, and painted them many times. From her point of view, she failed miserably in painting them. Georgia painted them from her car in bright sunlight, from her window while it rained- but the little hills moved farther away. Then she tried again. Then one day, out of the blue, ‘Ram’s Head, White Hollyhock-Hills’ was born.
O’Keeffe was well known for her unpredictable collocation. ‘Ram’s Head, White Hollyhock-Hills’ showcased a realistic portrayal of flowers, lay of the land, and the skull. This painting is living proof of Georgia’s eye for the objective beauty of things. Every aspect sketched in this marvelous painting impresses the viewer as an independent entity in its stance.
The artist didn’t completely agree with the views of some critics that this was a surrealistic piece. She said that she believed herself to be much more down to earth than credited for. It is possible that critics, many art lovers, or the artist herself might have had conflicting views. Despite the many arguments, this is a typical example of a painting that rings with colors that are eloquent with intrinsic passion.
O’Keeffe drew inspiration from other sources as well.
i. Pedernal Mountain: The artist had disclosed in many talks that The Pedernal in New Mexico inspired many of her paintings.
ii. The Landscape of Ghost Ranch: Georgia was too fascinated by the experience of nature at the ranch that many times she was out of words to describe them. All her fossil paintings were inspired by the ranch.
iii. Eastern New York: Her visits to the home of Alfred Stieglitz brought her into close contact with the magnificence of the Hudson River. Many of her nature paintings were inspired by this association.
2. Jimson Weed, White Flower No. 1
O’Keeffe had painted many flowers in their magnified appearance with great details on their colors and formation. She somehow felt that the world did not take notice of natural beauty. She took great pains to focus on the pinnacles of composite arrangements. Georgia wanted the busy city people to marvel at the intricacy contained in a simple flower.
The 1932 painting illustrates the magnified close-up of a Jimson weed flower with its leaves in the background. It fetched $44.4 million at the New York Sotheby’s in 2014. Since then ‘Jimson Weed, White Flower No. 1’ boasts of being the most expensive painting by a woman.
Many critics suggested that Georgia’s paintings depicted the female form. She did not entirely agree with this view. She did agree that any such portrayal was not intentional but a factual representation of her output. This made her stand out from the modernists of that time and fashioned her into a celebrity.
It is also noteworthy to comprehend that almost 10% of her works numbering around 2000 are themed on magnified floral.
1. Blue and Green Music.
The Most Costly O’Keeffe Paintings
It is needless to say that Jimson Weeds, the world record holder takes the pie among O’Keeffe paintings.
Her oil on canvas ‘A Street’ was sold in 2018 for $13.2 million.
In the same year, the painting titled, ‘Lake George With White Birch’ was sold for $11.2 million.
The Russian art theorist and painter Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky is accepted as the launcher of abstract art generally. His inclination towards spirituality was expressed in a theory which stated that visual artists should strive to articulate pure expression that is not bound by any established credentials. This will be achieved by making paintings of music!
O’Keeffe was fascinated by Kandinsky’s theory for pure expression by visual artists influenced by his spiritual inclination. She set out with the challenge around 1920 to render music into something that could be appreciated by the eyes. Her dedication culminated in ‘Blue and Green Music.’ The colors used to create the forms in the painting concurrently elicit music experience while propounding nature. This famous painting is in tandem with her fascination for close-ups of flowers. The molten consistency of the forms in ‘Blue and Green Music’ advocate abstract and a magnified panorama of flowers and leaves. Even to the inexperienced eye, certain flow and rhythm notes can be felt when focusing on this painting.
Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky was not the only man who influenced Georgia and her work. The other two men of significance in her life are:
i. Alfred Stieglitz. Many of her paintings inspired by the Hudson River School were born due to her frequent visits to Stieglitz’s home. They got married later. ii. Arthur Wesley Dow: His style of work was based on interpreting subjects rather than making copies of them. This approach greatly influenced Georgia’s methodology a lot.