By the age of twelve Georgia O’Keeffe was determined to become an artist. Beginning in 1907 she studied at the Art Students League in New York City under the Impressionist William Merritt Chase [49.1790], and then later at Columbia University’s Teachers College with the painter, printmaker...
By the age of twelve Georgia O’Keeffe was determined to become an artist. Beginning in 1907 she studied at the Art Students League in New York City under the Impressionist William Merritt Chase [49.1790], and then later at Columbia University’s Teachers College with the painter, printmaker [41.716], photographer [http://www.mfa.org/search/collections?artist=Arthur%20Wesley%20Dow&objecttype=59], and art theoretician Arthur Wesley Dow. It was while taking classes with Dow in the mid-1910s that she began to experiment with abstraction, creating her first series of non-representational works that she called “Specials.” O’Keeffe then applied her new approach to landscapes and figural studies and, by the end of the decade, to fruit and floral still lifes. At this time, her work came to the attention of Alfred Stieglitz [http://www.mfa.org/search/collections?keyword=packageid:26668] (whom she would marry in 1924); he displayed a series of her abstract drawings for the first time in an exhibition at his gallery 291 in 1916. O’Keeffe eventually returned to representation, using simplified forms, close-ups, and both bold and subtle color juxtapositions. She painted White Rose with Larkspur No. 2 in 1927, a year in which enlarged images of flowers, including poppies, petunias, and calla lilies, dominated her output. She later wrote that she felt that she had executed some of her best work in 1927. That year she produced five canvases of white roses (only two of which included larkspur), all close-ups that vary in their degree of abstraction. White Rose with Larkspur No. 2 is a masterful study of subtle color. O’Keeffe carefully manipulated the range of whites in the rose petals and her tones shift from green to gray to yellow. The flowers themselves are both recognizable and abstracted, and by their very scale O’Keeffe makes the viewer consider them in a new way. As she wrote in 1939, “nobody sees a flower-really . . . I’ll paint what I see-what the flower is to me but I’ll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking time to look at it—I will make even busy New Yorkers take time to see what I see of flowers.”  Notes 1. Georgia O’Keeffe, Georgia O’Keeffe (New York: Viking Press, 1976), n.p., opposite plate 23. This text was adapted from Elliot Bostwick Davis et al., American Painting [http://www.mfashop.com/9020398034.html], MFA Highlights (Boston: MFA Publications, 2003).
Reverse: Georgia O'Keeffe/July 1927
The artist; to MFA, 1980, purchase.
Henry H. and Zoe Oliver Sherman Fund