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The Kid Should See This

Georgia O’Keeffe doesn’t care what you think

Feeling disconnected from creating art within classical conventions, artist Georgia O’Keeffe began experimenting with abstract drawings that defied easy classification. Using the shapes and rhythms of nature to capture her internal world, these experiments became the cornerstone of the movement known as American Modernism.

…and O’Keeffe has since become known as the mother of American Modernism, an artistic movement that “shared a desire to challenge the realist traditions that dominated art education.” The art of Georgia O’Keeffe and how to see more and care less is a TED-Ed lesson by Iseult Gillespie. The animation was directed by Lisa LaBracio.

georgia o'keeffe introduction

Though her work quickly became and remains popular in American culture, O’Keeffe treasured a more solitary life, eventually moving from New York City to New Mexico. Her observance of small details in nature and a love of color drove her creativity until her death in 1986 at the age of 98.

georgia o'keefe skull paintings
“I found that I could say things with colour and shapes that I couldn’t say in any other way things that I had no words for,” she wrote. Via Brainpickings, where you can see more of her work and find links to her art books:

A flower is relatively small. Everyone has many associations with a flower — the idea of flowers. You put out your hand to touch the flower — lean forward to smell it — maybe touch it with your lips almost without thinking — or give it to someone to please them. Still — in a way — nobody sees a flower — really — it is so small — we haven’t time — and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time. If I could paint the flower exactly as I see it no one would see what I see because I would paint it small like the flower is small.

So I said to myself — 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.

Well — I made you take time to look at what I saw and when you took time to really notice my flower, you hung all your own associations with flowers on my flower and you write about my flower as if I think and see what you think and see of the flower — and I don’t.

georgia o'keeffe flower paintings
Find more about her life’s work at 1843 Magazine: Georgia O’Keeffe, the first American modernist.

Plus: The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum’s Online Collections.

Then watch more videos about women in art:
• Frida Kahlo: The woman behind the legend
• Artist Shantell Martin: Follow the Pen
• Illustrating the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Wall of Birds
The Weather Artist: Chasing Storms With Sculpture
• Ceramic artist Michelle Erickson recreates an 18th-century agateware teapot

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