"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."
BIRTHDATE: Nov. 15, 1887
BIRTHPLACE: Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.
EDUCATION: Graduated from the Chatham Protestant Episcopal Institute in Williamsburg, Va. in 1904. Studied art at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Art Students League in New York.
FAMILY BACKGROUND: Ancestors were from Ireland and Hungary; her family were farmers. She grew up in both Sun Prairie and Williamsburg, Virginia.
DESCRIPTION OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS: The artistic brilliance of Georgia O'Keeffe revolutionized modern art in both her time and in the present. With her paintings she vividly portrayed the power and emotion of objects of nature. This was first seen in her charcoal drawings of silhouetted bud-like forms exhibited in 1916 that brought her fame. During the 1920s , she explored this theme in her magnified paintings of flowers which to this day enchant people amorously, although her purpose was to convey that nature in all its beauty was as powerful as the widespread industrialization of the period.
After spending a summer in New Mexico, Georgia O'Keeffe, enthralled by the barren landscape and expansive skies of the desert, would explore the subject of animal bones in her paintings of the 1930s and 1940s. Just as with the flowers, she painted the bones magnified and captured the stillness and remoteness of them, while at the same time expressing a sense of beauty that lies within the desert.
Georgia O'Keeffe was married to the pioneer photographer Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) in 1924. It was at Stieglitz's famed New York art gallery "291" that her charcoal drawings were first exhibited in 1916. The union lasted 22 years, until Stieglitz's death.
The paintings from the latter phase of Georgia O'Keeffe's career (after her move to New Mexico in 1949) concerned a rectangular door on an adobe wall and the sky. These were far less inspiring than her earlier works-which continued to be rediscovered through her lifetime and to the present day.
DATE OF DEATH: March 6, 1986, age 98.
PLACE OF DEATH: Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters
First retrospective show of a woman's art at the Museum of Modern Art
Awarded the Gold Medal of Painting by the National Institute of Arts and Letters
Awarded the Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor
President Ronald Reagan presented the National Medal of Arts in 1985.