Georgia O’Keeffe | The Mother of American Modernism Is Back
Art4 Minutes Read

Georgia O’Keeffe | The Mother of American Modernism Is Back

January 23, 2022 Share

Today is the day! Georgia O’Keeffe’s exhibition is open at the Fondation Beyeler, and her sexual flowers are already making history.

An abstract canvas drenched in sunset hues, colours radiating like flames. These are just some of the imagery I got when looking at the work of Georgia O’Keeffe. 

But if you look closer, it reveals the tender stems and velvety texture is simply a metamorphosis of natural subjects into abstract geometry—a commonplace in the work of the painting.

Georgia O’Keeffe was an American artist referred to as the Mother of American modernism. She is best known for her large paintings of flowers, skyscrapers, and New Mexico’s landscapes.

Georgia O’Keeffe
Georgia O’Keeffe. Photo By Alfred Stieglitz, Public Domain.
Georgia O’Keeffe
Grey Lines with Black, Blue and Yellow, 1923. Oil on canvas. 48 × 30 inches. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. © Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.
Georgia O’Keeffe
Oil on canvas. © Georgia O’Keeffe Museum / 2021, ProLitteris, Zurich.

Born on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, her family encouraged her to take art lessons. Her local farm surroundings fueled her inspiration for flowers and nature. This love of the natural world would be reflected in her art throughout her life as a young woman.

Feeling disconnected from creating art within classical conventions, artist Georgia O’Keeffe began experimenting with abstract drawings that defied easy classification. 

Georgia O’Keeffe
PELVIS WITH THE DISTANCE, 1943. Oil on canvas. © Georgia O’Keeffe Museum / 2021, ProLitteris, Zurich.
Georgia O’Keeffe
Oil on canvas. © Georgia O’Keeffe Museum / 2021, ProLitteris, Zurich.

“For decades, critics assumed that O’Keeffe’s flowers portrayed allusions—to the female anatomy,” says Mental Floss. 

Please don’t lie; you saw it at first glance too. If you didn’t, I apologise for putting that image in your mind. I bet you cannot unsee it now.

But according to Mental Floss, in 1943, she insisted that they had it all wrong. In an interview, she says: “well—I made you take time to look at what I saw, and when you took time to notice my flowers, you hung all your associations with flowers on my flower, and you write about my flower as if I think and see what you think and see of the flower—and I don’t.” 

So there.

Alfred Stieglitz. A Portrait, 1920–1922. Christie’s

After moving to New York, she increasingly became drawn to the clean lines, vivid colours and striking composition of Japanese art. Since then, American modernism has aimed to challenge realists’ that dominated art education of the time.

This moment marked the beginning of Georgia O’Keeffe’s career as a famous artist.

The exhibition runs from 23 January to 22 May 2022 at the Fondation Beyeler, Baselstrasse 101, 4125 Basel, Switzerland.


Similar Stories
Welcome To Another Year Of Art Basel 2022 
Sandra Rocha and her Parisian Vernissage
Frieze L.A. Hangover? Check Out These Exhibitions to Keep the Artistic High Going
Author: Michelle Laver
Alfred Stieglitz
Fondation Beyeler
Georgia O’Keeffe
Mother of American Modernism