The Sex of Flowers.
"Nobody sees a flower - really - it is so small it takes time - we haven't time - and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time" Georgia O'Keeffe
Oriental Poppies 1924
To me, Georgia O'Keeffe has long been a favourite artist, the colours of her work are intense and dramatic.
I love the way she plays with composition, taking a contemporary trick of forms racing off the edge of the canvas. Her colour palette is intense, vibrant and exciting. To me she is an inspirational female artist.
Many claim that the images which Georgia O'Keeffe created when painting her over-large blooms, was work which was sexual, and many went as far as to say it was an erotic art form; but O'Keeffe constantly denied this saying that this notion was all in the mind of the beholder. The notion seems to have stemmed from her late husband, the photographer Alfred Stieglitz, who caused a furor when he exhibited explicit nude portraits of her in 1921—while he was still married to another woman.
In an attempt to divert the attention of her critic's away from their Freudian interpretations of her work, she began to paint in a more conventional style, as seen in her famous Poppy paintings, shown above.
Georgia O'Keeffe Grey Lines with Black, Blue and Yellow c1923 Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Houston, USA) © 2016 Georgia O'Keeffe Museum/DACS, London
She claimed that no-one took the time to look at flowers, so she painted immense close-ups, fascinated by the inner workings, the folds and chambers. If you have ever taken a flower and sliced it in half to observe the ovaries and reproductive system, you cannot help but be amazed at how a flower works. Outdated views thats she painted womens body parts infuriated her immensely. Once noticed, it's hard not to be swayed...
To deny the erotic link was to deny flowers primary function is to just attract and reproduce. Each channelled runway is to entice a bee or an insect to pollination. The colour isn't random in any way, it's designed to be attractive to the insect which will help it reproduce and therefore survive.
Nature didn't create flowers to be cut and put in a vase on a shelf. Flowers are sex objects.
O’Keeffe liked to paint the same thing again and again, until she had discovered the essence of the object. She painted with great conviction, her practice attempts very rarely strayed from the original image.
The flowers, the big full blown Irises and Morning Glory, were gradually replaced by New York cityscapes and then by animal carcasses, dried by the sun of New Mexico.
In the 1950's, O’Keeffe began to travel internationally, her style changed again. She created paintings that evoked a sense of the spectacular places she visited, including the mountain peaks of Peru and Japan’s Mount Fuji.
At the age of seventy-three she embarked on a new series which focused on the clouds in the sky and the rivers below. The lines that had once caused a bit of a scandal, were used to show composition of rocks. The colours were still intense and blended in a way only O'Keeffe could.
As she grew older, sadly she began to lose her core vision. She had assistants who would mix paints for her and make sure the canvases were ready to be used.
Even after going virtually blind, O’Keeffe took up sculpting and watercolour with help from a friend, William Hamilton. She also worked with pastel, charcoal, and pencil until she was 96.
Georgia O’Keeffe created a place for herself in New York’s male dominated art world.
Her influence has made her into one of the greatest female artists and an inspiration to women everywhere.
However, on a final note about Georgia's life...I love the fact that even at the age of 85 she was causing scandals and rumours about her relationship with a younger man, 60 years younger. She bequeathed both houses to him, along with the better part of her $70 million estate, when she died at age 98, prompting lawsuits from her surviving family members, some of whom believed that Hamilton had conned his way into her will (and, according to some accusations, into her bed). Hamilton later gave most of the bequest back to the family.
In his own words he says of O'Keefe " "She was no flower. When she was in a bad mood, boy, she was tough!"
"I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life - and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do. "
Georgia O'Keeffe 1887 - 1986
Credit to excerpts from: https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a14033/georgia-okeeffe-0316/
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