Interesting Facts About Georgia O'keeffe

Updated on May 25, 2018
hrymel profile image

Haley is a professional nerd with a penchant for researching historical figures.

Georgia O'Keeffe in her later years, poses in front of a skull, one the items that she painted over the years.
Georgia O'Keeffe in her later years, poses in front of a skull, one the items that she painted over the years. | Source

Georgia O'Keeffe's Childhood

Georgia O'Keeffe was born on November 15, 1887, near Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. She was also raised in this area but later moved to Virginia.

Her talent was discovered as a small child, and she was blessed with art lessons throughout her life. By her graduation from high school, she had already decided that her life goal was to become an artist. She went on to study at the School of Art Institute of Chicago and then attended the Art Students League in New York.

Shortly after this time, she gave up on her dream of a career of an artist, because she felt as if she was only doing art to please others. She felt that there was no freedom in the art that she studied. She soon returned to art and began to experiment with abstract painting.

Quick Facts

  • Mother of American Modernism
  • Painted over 900 paintings
  • Favored larger than life paintings
  • Most famous for her trademark flower and skull paintings
  • Some of her flower paintings have been scandalized for appearing to allude to female genitalia.

"I have but one desire as a painter – that is to paint what I see, as I see it, in my own way, without regard for the desires or taste of the professional dealer or the professional collector."

— Georgia O’Keeffe
Georgia O'Keefe drew inspiration for her paintings from the environment in the American Southwest.
Georgia O'Keefe drew inspiration for her paintings from the environment in the American Southwest. | Source

Georgia O'Keeffe's Career

Georgia O'Keeffe enjoyed painting in the New Mexican area of the United States, where she liked to paint bones and flowers. Her flower paintings are large than life, and she said that she painted them this big so that the paintings would be noticed.

Some of her flower paintings have been accused of representing a (thinly veiled) illusion of female genitalia.

All of her inspirations came straight from her own mind. This is explained by the fact that all of her flowers express her emotional moods. Because of her specific style of art, she has become known as the "Root of Abstract Art." She is also widely known as the "Mother of American Modernism.

In total, she painted over 900 paintings. In 1928, she sold a group of six paintings for the largest sum (up until this time) ever paid for an American artist's group of works. The amount was $25,000.

She was also one of the first women to be given an independent exhibition for her works by the Museum of Modern Art in 1946.

Deep saturated colors became a hallmark of O'Keefe's work.
Deep saturated colors became a hallmark of O'Keefe's work. | Source

Georgia O'Keeffe's Romance and Life

Georgia O'Keefe's Husband

Alfred Stieglitz, O'Keeffe's future husband, put up her artwork in his gallery 291 without her permission. After this misunderstanding, they soon became close friends exchanging letters frequently, and she eventually stayed in New York because that's where Alfred Stieglitz lived. Stieglitz was a photographer as well as an art curator, and over time took over 350 portraits of Georgia O'Keeffe. In fact, she chose her house in Abiquiú because of the door. After Alfred died, she permanently moved to New Mexico.

Georgia O'Keefe Scandalous Relationship

In the 1970s Georgia began a scandalous relationship with a man 58 years her junior. While she was 85 years old, she began an intimate relationship with Juan Hamilton, a 27-year-old, broke artist who was looking for a job when they met. This relationship received a large amount of negative attention, with frequent complaints from friends and business colleagues.


Georgia O'Keeffe died on March 6, 1986, at the age of 98, two years short of her goal to live to be one-hundred. She had continued to work with charcoal until 1984.

Georgia O'Keefe Talks about Her Life and Work

After Her Death

Many of Georgia O'Keeffe's works are housed in a museum dedicated to her life located in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum began as home to 94 works of art by O'Keeffe, however in 2006 they expanded to 981 works. These works include paintings, drawings, sculptures, sketches, and photographs by the woman. They also have 1,770 photographs of O'Keeffe's life, houses, friends, and subject by various photographers.

A multitude of books have also been published about O'Keeffe, she has even been featured in National Geographic articles.

Visit Goergia O'Keeffe's Museum

Georgia O'Keeffe Museum:
217 Johnson Street, Santa Fe, NM 87501, USA

get directions

Opened to the public in July 1997. It is the only museum in the United States dedicated to an internationally-known woman artist.

Ghost Ranch:
1708 U.S. 84, Abiquiu, NM 87510, USA

get directions

Ghost Ranch was Georgia O'Keeffe's home. It is now owned by the Goergia O'Keeffe museum.

Questions & Answers

  • Why did Georgia O'Keeffe draw flowers?

    Georgia O'Keeffe was taught to draw flowers by her high school teacher. This teacher had a large impact on her, because later in her career as she felt depressed and uninspired, she returned to flowers. Large depictions of flowers that fill the canvas suggest the immensity of nature and encourage the viewer to look at flowers differently, and she used the flowers to explore and depict female sexuality.

  • Why does Georgia O'Keeffe have a museum?

    The museum's website states that it exists because it wants people to gain "insight not only into the artist’s paintings, but also her creative process and the light and landscape that inspired her. In addition to the main Museum campus in Santa Fe, the O’Keeffe Museum maintains O’Keeffe’s two homes and studios in northern New Mexico, a research center and library, and a variety of collections relating to O’Keeffe and modern art."


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    • hrymel profile imageAUTHOR


      20 months ago from Baltimore, MD

      Leslie, thanks for the correction. It's fixed now.

    • profile image


      20 months ago

      Who wrote this? Ms. O'Keefe lived in Abiquiú, New Mexico, not Albuquerque, New Mexico.

    • profile image

      Moises im 9 im hothot 

      3 years ago

      My grampa is a good painter just like georgia okeeffe

    • profile image 

      4 years ago

      this is really cool :D

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      love your paintings so cool

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I thing she is so good at art

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      nice work georgia.Flower POWER (:

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I love her painting awesome

    • profile image


      7 years ago


    • profile image


      7 years ago

      nice work o keffe

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I am working on a project for art in Then when I finish I'm going to have to draw one of her pictures hope it goes well.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      your work is awsome.........

    • profile image

      baby girl 

      7 years ago

      i love your amazing painting

    • profile image

      Ann luvx ya deese 

      7 years ago

      i really love this page although it could give you more information about her! all smiles though :)

    • profile image

      the awesome 

      7 years ago

      she is an amazing painter

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I really love to draw too just like her

    • profile image

      bob the bilder on ice 

      7 years ago

      from what i saw of her i love her work......but i am doing a project on her i need really hard facts that know one will guess but really easey ones that don't revl her... if u have any ideas i could use help.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      She is an amazing painter and I just love her art work.


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