"I decided that if I could paint that flower in a huge scale, you could not ignore its beauty."
Georgia O'Keeffe (1887–1986)
Teachers College 1914–15
The American artist Georgia O'Keeffe is best known for her large-scale paintings of flowers as well as for the use of color in depicting the vistas and objects of the American Southwest. She first drew attention as a member of the avant-garde movement in New York, rejecting the imitative realism of the 1910s in favor of abstract charcoal drawings, and by the mid-1920s had begun experimenting with the oversized images that would gain her even wider notice. Over the years O'Keefe's career was tirelessly promoted by the photographer and art impresario Alfred Stieglitz, who became her lover in 1918 and her husband in 1924. Stieglitz exhibited O'Keeffe's early work in his New York gallery, and in later years organized annual shows that drew thousands of visitors. In 1943 the Art Institute of Chicago mounted a retrospective of O'Keeffe's work, and in 1946 she was the subject of the first solo exhibition ever given a woman at New York's Museum of Modern Art. O'Keeffe spent part of each year in New Mexico from 1929 on and relocated to the Santa Fe area permanently in 1949, a few years after Stieglitz's death. There she continued to pursue her signature themes until vision problems forced her to give up the paintbrush in the early 1970s.