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Historical Essay

O'Keeffe, Georgia (1887-1986)

Legendary Artist

O'Keefe, Georgia (1887-1996) | Wisconsin Historical Society
Dictionary of Wisconsin History.
EnlargeGovernor Warren Knowles and Artist Georgia O'Keefe at the presentation of the Wisconsin Governor's Award for Creativity in the Arts.

Governor Warren Knowles and Georgia O'Keeffe

Governor Warren Knowles and Artist Georgia O'Keeffe at the presentation of the Wisconsin Governor's Award for Creativity in the Arts. View the original source document: WHI 115812

b. Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, 1887
d. Santa Fe, New Mexico, March, 1986

Georgia O'Keeffe was an American painter. O'Keeffe was born on November 15, 1887, to Francis C. and Calyxtus O'Keeffe. She was the second of seven children.

She grew up on a farm in Sun Prairie where she received art lessons at home. When she was 15, the family left Wisconsin for Virginia. O'Keeffe graduated from high school in 1905. She had already decided on a career as an artist.

Education and Legacy

She attended the Art Institute of Chicago in 1905, then moved to New York in 1907 to continue her studies. She returned briefly to Virginia, before landing jobs teaching art at Columbia College, Columbia, South Carolina and West Texas State Normal College in Canyon, Texas. In 1916, she returned to New York to work with influential photographer Alfred Stieglitz, who had promoted her art. They married in 1924. The two worked together in the city and in Lake George, New York, until 1929, when O'Keeffe spent her first summer in New Mexico. Her reputation as a modern master grew through many exhibits held after 1916 in New York and elsewhere. Stieglitz died in 1946, and three years later O'Keeffe moved to New Mexico, where she continued to paint for four more decades until she died at age 98.

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Benke, Britta. O'Keefe (Koln: Taschen, 2005)