top of page

Georgia O'keeffe

Georgia O'Keeffe is regarded as a great painter who renders sexuality because of her closed-up flower paintings. However, she disagreed with other people's sexual evaluations of her painting, which means she was involved in expressing feminine sexuality by some people, not by herself.

Specifically, Paul Rosenfeld was a male critic who read the paintings the most sexually. He mentioned specific body parts such as ‘Lips’, ‘the tip of the tongue’ to describe the flowers in a sexually suggestive way. Also, Helen Appleton Read used Freudian jargon to explain O’Keeffe’s distinct feminine sensibilities, as evidenced in the “purest abstraction” that suggests ‘suppressed Desires.’ American society in the 1920s seemed to embrace the sexual and sex was becoming a marker of identity when O'Keeffe was being famous as an artist. This might be a reason that people at the time consistently connected O’Keeffe and feminine sexuality.

It is easy to find organic and nuclear images that are seen as feminine imagery such as women’s vagina, clitoris, and labium in her flower paintings. Gray Line with Black, Blue and Yellow (1923) is one of her fascinating flower semi-abstractions. The colours were taken from real flower images but more vibrant. The use of mystical colours and the shape of female anatomy make viewers think of an entrance of a magical place. Red Canna (1924) is an abstraction of close-up canna. It resembles fire because of the colour palette so that it seems strong but also fragile. Since the red flower was enlarged, viewers could imagine the natural sweet scent of it as if we go closely to flowers to smell them. Similar to O’Keeffe’s other flower paintings, it has a close resemblance to a woman’s clitoris and labium.

Apart from the interpretation of feminine genitals, Inventive in composition and subtle in coloration, Flower Abstraction is rather, an exercise in balancing and combining observed and imagined forms, in subtly adducing an atmosphere of wholesome, vibrant, sensual feeling. In fact, nature object was a bit inspiration of Georgia O'Keeffe and it was sort of driving force to create abstraction for her. With regard to this, O’Keeffe’s work is not simply sexual, rather soul-like.

I decided that if I could paint that flower in a huge scale, you could not ignore its beauty. ”

- Georgia O'Keeffe

I feel there is something unexplored about woman that only a woman can explore. ”

- Georgia O'Keeffe

I hate flowers - I paint them because they're cheaper than models and they don't move. ”

- Georgia O'Keeffe

I said to myself, I have things in my head that are not like what anyone has taught me - shapes and ideas so near to me - so natural to my way of being and thinking that it hasn't occurred to me to put them down. ”

- Georgia O'Keeffe

#Fun Facts

1. Georgia O'Keeffe consistently battled against the Freudian interpretations of her flower series.

Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud was becoming popular in the United States in 1920s. Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, had written that one way of looking at art, besides its aesthetic value, was as an expression of the artists unconscious thoughts or desire. With Judy Chicago, the feminist art movement of the 1970s attempted to commandeer O'Keeffe for her "feminine iconography," but she refused to collaborate with them on any projects. Biologically, the centers of flowers are androgynous, not feminine, alright? These flowers were not painted in praise of labia, conversely, these ravenous views are tributes to the sensual forces and ecstasy of nature itself.

2. Flower paintings make up a small percentage of O'Keeffe's paintings.

Though O'Keeffe is most famous for her lovingly rendered close-ups of flowers - like Black Irisand Oriental Poppies - these make up just about 200 of her 2000-plus paintings. The rest primarily depict landscapes, leaves, rocks, shells, and bones

# Her Masterpieces that I collect

Music-Pink and Blue II, 1919

Though long celebrated as an important figure in 20th century modern art, Georgia O'Keeffe created a significant body of abstract work that was largely overlooked. Early in her career O'Keeffe's withdrew from painting abstracts because her critics, she claimed, misread her works, interpreting them as psychological expressions of her sexuality. Instead, O'Keeffe intended her abstract work to be the very personal expression of the intangible, her feelings and esthetic about the natural world. Though even as she moved toward representational depictions of desert flowers and Southwestern scenery for which she is best known, abstraction was her guiding principle.

Red Canna (1924)

With Red Canna(1924), Georgia O'keeffe continued the tendency to distill abstract patterns from natural sources, but now vastly enlarging the fragment of the blossom to fill the thirty-six-inch canvas. The enlargement of motif coincided with her Bing Trees and magnified leaves, also begun in 1924, and, like the latter, her large flowers were drawn from close-up study of natural forms. The restrained brushwork is typical of O'Keeffe's handling of oils, creating peculiarly smoothed shapes and subtle spatial ambiguities in her graded passages from intense tones to pearly whites. As the shapes swell and taper across the plane, they pulse with color and energy, suggesting the artist's continuing fascination with themes of natural vitality, translated to the microcosm of the blossom. Despite the apparent dissimilarity in subject, the floral enlargements provided and analogue to the forces of nature O'Keeffe had previously examined and are thematically related to her abstractions, her Texas skycaps, and her Lake George panoramas.

Gray Lines with Black, Blue and Yellow, 1924

In this masterpiece of Georgia O'Keeffe's career, precisely delineated, undulating folds and lucid, three-dimensional forms work together to create an image of potent ambiguity suggesting either portrayals of plant life or, as some critics have argued, abstractions based on the female anatomy.

# Taking Memo in Korean :9

여성적 섹슈얼리티의 상징성/자연에서 추출된 생명에너지에 대한 추상성


내면에 존재하는 생명력- 칸딘스키의 영향

색채의 중요성

생명의 에너지

자연으로부터의 모티브- 예술과 삶 사이 연관관계 유지


1. 여성적 섹슈얼리티? -터부시되어온 여성의 성기

여성만이 체험할 수 있는 개인적 경험들 표현- 능동적 관찰자의 모습에서

2.작품에서 발견된거

신체같은 굴곡과 매끄러움

에너지의 근원은여성

여성 섹슈얼리티의 금기를 제거하고 창조적 에너지의 해방

-여성 성기와 자궁의 이미지-> 여성의 해방을향한 도구

순수한 회화적 표현요소를 색채의 문제에서 찾기

-자기내면에 존재하는 생명감- 칸딘스키의 추상과 비슷


유기체적 양식. 생물형태적 추상.


bottom of page