Hello Bloggers and blog watchers. I am so excited about this month’s artist, Georgia O’Keefe. (November 1887 – March 1986) This is Peinture de la vie’s first American artist not to mention first woman artist. Looking back she was probably the first well-known artist I was able to recognize by sight. Even though my mother was a successful artist I had little knowledge of the world’s art scene. I think I was out in the yard playing with the flowers and insects and not interested in art at the time. But I do remember seeing those amazing huge paintings of flowers.
Georgia O’Keefe was one of those painters who gave new dimensions to modern art. She was born in Wisconsin and grew up on a farm with her six siblings. As a child she was fascinated with art. So much that after graduating from High school she was determined to be an artist. She studied at schools that have been instrumental in shaping what we now know as America’s legacy in the fine arts; school such at the Chicago Art Institute and New York’s Art Student League. Artists as Roy Lichtenstein and Jackson Pollock studied at these schools.
In 1924 O’Keefe started painting large scale flowers. One of which is called Petunia Number 2. This was her first large scale painting and the first exhibited in 1925. These creations expressed what she called “the wideness of wonder of the world as I live in it.” She must have felt a bit like Alice in Wonderland. I imagine her running around the garden full of enormous flowers chasing the White Rabbit. No, seriously, her huge paintings of flowers are incredible. She painted them with abundance of color and passion. In fact, that passion has been misinterpreted for decades.
Even today the critics debate as to what is at the bottom of these flowers. Who knew flowers could be so controversial? If you look at many of her paintings you could imagine she was trying to portray sexuality or eroticism. Many of the flowers and other paintings do suggest genitalia. However, O’Keefe said that she was just painting what she sees. And others obviously don’t see the same thing she does. Some write her off as an artist and call her “prissy” and others say her paintings are all about sex. I am not sure why we have to place a label or an underlining motive for art. Sometimes we paint what we see and what makes us happy at that time. I don’t know whether or not O’Keefe was trying to portray “a world as it is known to women” as said in an article after a Whitney museum’s showing. I think sometimes we want to look farther into something and it isn’t necessary.
As you know, if you have followed my blog, my mother was an artist. There was a time where she focused on large scale flowers. In fact, one Christmas I remember she surprised me and my brothers and sisters with a painting that she did. She must have spent months doing six different flower paintings. And how on earth did she keep it from us? Mine is of tulips. I love it! It was the first painting I received from her and I hold it so dear to my heart. I have included it here for you to see. My sister Julie has a beautiful close up of a rose. It really is amazing.
Tulips by Donna Bruckshen (mom)
My friend Mary Lou loved the rose painting so much she wanted one. She has been my friend since we were 12. Needless to say we have gone through a lot together! Anyway, she wanted a painting from me. I wasn’t an artist but decided to take painting lessons from my mom. It was great, I was able to do something special for a friend and spend time with my mom. I gave the painting to her for mother’s day many years ago. It was (and still is) touching how much it meant to her. Mary Lou never liked Mother’s day after her father died on that very day. But that painting has helped her get past that heartbreak and focus on the good, her life as a mother, wife and a friend. I have included a photo of that painting that still hangs in her house. Here is to you my dear friend, you might be the reason I am painting today.
Getting back to Georgia O’Keefe, I loved researching her because of all the controversy. But she was just a woman artist who painted what she loved. She ended up living in New Mexico and died in 1986 at the age of 89. She continued to work up until her death. One of my favorite paintings of hers hangs in the Chicago Art Institute. I have included it here for you. I love it because it makes me think of tranquility. I just want to sit on one of her clouds and enjoy the peace.
I hope you have enjoyed my little summary of Georgia O’Keefe. Please comment on what you think. I want to hear! Also, if you have not done so already click “follow” on this blog so you can receive next month’s blog by email.
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Georgia O’Keefe Museum http://www.okeeffemuseum.org
The Art Student League – New York http://www.theartstudentsleague.org/About.aspx
Chicago Art Institute http://www.artic.edu/
Out of the Erotic Ghetto- New York Magazine http://nymag.com/arts/art/reviews/59249/