One of the greatest American painters of the 20th century, Georgia O'Keeffe is beloved by a broad audience that ranges from the most erudite art historian to the twelve-year-old girl next door. Her monumentally sensuous oil paintings of flowers hang in the best museum collections but are known as well via mass-produced posters, greeting cards and calendars; her weathered, elegant, fierce self has long been mythicized through Alfred Stieglitz's classic black-and-white photographs of his wife. This large-format monograph on O'Keefe renews her place in the modern canon and encourages an intensive encounter with her work. Her radical departures from imitative realism, the style that was prevalent when she began to study art making, eventually led to an idiosyncratic painting style characterized by a state of suspension. Over the course of her lengthy career--she worked up until two years before her death at age 98--she discovered and developed a personal language through which to express her own feelings and ideas, creating bold picture conceptions and spatial designs that hover somewhere between the real and the abstract, the close-up and the monumental, natural representation and artificiality.
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Georgia O'Keeffe was born in 1887, the second of seven children, and grew up on a farm in Wisconsin. By the time she graduated from high school she was determined to become an artist, spending the next few years studying art at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Art Students League of New York, and later teaching art in Texas, Virginia and South Carolina. In 1916, Alfred Stieglitz exhibited 10 of her charcoal abstractions at his famous avant-garde gallery, 291, closing the gallery the next year with a solo exhibition of her works. From 1918 on they lived and worked together in New York and Lake George. Three years after Stieglitz's death in 1946, O'Keefe moved to New Mexico, whose stunning vistas and stark landscape configurations had inspired her work since 1929. It was here that she painted her most famous pictures, working in oils until her eyes failed her in the 1970s. She continued working in pencil and watercolor until 1982 and produced objects in clay until 1984, two years before she died at age 98.
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