Skip to main content

Interesting Facts About Georgia O'keeffe

  • Author:
  • Updated date:
Georgia O'Keeffe in her later years

Georgia O'Keeffe in her later years

Georgia O'Keeffe's Childhood

Georgia O'Keeffe was born on November 15, 1887, near Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. She was raised in this area before later moving 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 as 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

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

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 100. She 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, it 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

Questions & Answers

Question: Why does Georgia O'Keeffe have a museum?

Answer: 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."

Question: Why did Georgia O'Keeffe draw flowers?

Answer: 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.


Haley (author) from Baltimore, MD on May 25, 2018:

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

Leslie on May 23, 2018:

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

Moises im 9 im hothot on February 07, 2016:

My grampa is a good painter just like georgia okeeffe on January 21, 2016:

this is really cool :D

elayah on January 24, 2013:

love your paintings so cool

alyssa on May 21, 2012:

I thing she is so good at art

gigu on May 14, 2012:

nice work georgia.Flower POWER (:

Sarah# on May 02, 2012:

I love her painting awesome

MCHEYLA on April 25, 2012:


jj on April 18, 2012:

nice work o keffe

Jessicaangel on April 05, 2012:

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.

baby on April 05, 2012:

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

baby girl on April 05, 2012:

i love your amazing painting

Ann luvx ya deese on April 05, 2012:

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

the awesome on April 05, 2012:

she is an amazing painter

Jessicaangel on April 05, 2012:

I really love to draw too just like her

bob the bilder on ice on March 17, 2012:

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.

random on February 27, 2012:

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