Georgia O’Keeffe once remarked, “What is my experience of the flower if not color?” This painting of two calla lilies is an extraordinary example of her floral compositions, made of sweeping, broad waves of subtly blended hues. The white petals, highlighted in green, are arranged against a pink backdrop, and from each one emerges a bright yellow pistil. Many have interpreted O’Keeffe’s depictions of floral anatomy in relation to sexuality and gender, but the artist always resisted these interpretations, considering them too specific and limiting.
Georgia O’Keeffe (American, 1887–1986) felt a lifelong connection to nature. Recalling her childhood on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, she said, “Where I come from, the earth means everything.” She spent her career exploring the natural world and capturing its wondrous beauty in her art. Her close-up views of flowers, expansive landscapes, and abstract paintings invite people to see the world through her eyes.
O’Keeffe was one of the first American women to achieve fame as an artist in her lifetime. She became well-known when the photographer Alfred Stieglitz showed her work at his prominent gallery 291 in New York City. The artists fell in love and married in 1924. O’Keeffe began spending her summers in New Mexico in 1929. Its landscape and distance from busy city life inspired her and gave her the peaceful time alone that she needed to work. She moved there permanently twenty years later.
O’Keeffe made sketches wherever she went. Using her drawings and the objects she found on her adventures, she made her final pictures back in the studio. Her works of art celebrate the beauty of the places and things she so carefully observed, as well as her deeply personal experiences of them.
Source: Philadelphia Museum of Art