Why She’s Amazing

Georgia O’Keeffe didn’t want to be a princess. She wanted to be more.

Known for her flower and scenery paintings, Georgia became an international sensation and the first internationally recognized female artist. Her artwork included canvas, watercolors and some sculptures that were made later in her life. By the 1920s, Georgia was recognized as one of America’s most important and successful artists.

Georgia received numerous awards during her lifetime, including the following:

  • Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters
  • Given the distinct honor of being the first woman to have a retrospective show at the
  • Museum of Modern Art
  • Awarded the Gold Medal of Painting by the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1970
  • Presented with the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest honor for a civilian given by the government, in 1977 by President Gerald Ford.
  • Received the National Medal of Arts from President Ronald Reagan in 1985, just one year before her death.

Impressively, Georgia maintained her fame throughout both her career and various art styles. While most of her artwork focused on scenery and flowers, the places and themes changed as she moved. Through it all, she kept the world entranced by the beauty that only she could create.

“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

Her Determination

Georgia’s talent was recognizable from a young age. From her teachers to her friends, she was encouraged to continue growing her skills at a time when women were not leaders in art. She pursued her passion and attended both the Art Institute of Chicago as well as the Art League in New York in the 1900s.

Georgia focused on developing her style throughout her schooling and found inspiration from another painter, Arthur Wesley Dow. She admired his ability “to fill a space in a beautiful way,” and she wanted reflect the same notion her paintings. More than anything, Georgia wanted to share the beauty she saw around her with the world.

As she grew older, Georgia was diagnosed with macular degeneration and failing eyesight. In 1977, she painted her last unassisted oil painting titled “The Beyond”. Refusing to stop painting altogether, Georgia used assistants to help mix her paint and prepare the canvas. She then painted from memory, rather than sight, to create her works. Though her eyesight was failing, her mind still allowed her to fill the world with beauty.

A True Inspiration

Georgia wanted to be a painter and never gave up on that dream. Though her paintings showcase gentle beauty and wonder, the woman behind them was incredibly strong. Between finding a style, evolving her craft and competing with artists worldwide, Georgia worked tirelessly to secure her place as a leader in the art world. She believed in herself at a time when women were not encouraged to excel.

Georgia drew inspiration for her paintings from the world around her. She grew up in a small town in Wisconsin but soon eventually traveled the world. Each journey offered new scenery and a new perspective to share with the world.

Her dedication to share the beauty she saw in the world around her against all odds serves as inspiration for generations of artists past, present and future. Georgia lived her life trying to show us how beautiful life truly is.

Fun Facts:

  • Georgia’s mother strongly supported her pursuit of art.
  • Georgia created approximately 2,000 works of art during her career.
  • The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is the first museum dedicated to a female artist.
  • Georgia didn’t sign her artwork; rather, she thought people would be able to tell they were hers because of what she painted and how she painted it.
  • Painted in 1930, “White Rose, New Mexico,” sold for more than $1 million at a New York auction.