After our wonderful lunch at Tia Sophia’s in Santa Fe, Jon and I went over to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. It is a little tough to find, with its entrance tucked into a little side street. Admission is $6 for New Mexico residents and $12 for non-residents.
Georgia O’Keeffe was born in 1887 (the same year as my grandfather) in Wisconsin to a dairy farming family. She decided at age 10 that she wanted to be an artist (at that age, I was still dreaming of being a horse racing jockey), so she went to art school at the Art Institute of Chicago. After finishing school, she stopped painting for a period of time, because she wasn’t inspired by the style popular during the time, and spent a couple of years teaching art classes in Amarillo, Texas.
In 1916, she was discovered when a friend sent a folio of her work to a prominent gallery owner friend in New York. When she and the gallery owner, Alfred Steiglitz, met a few months later, he offered to pay her expenses for a year in New York so she could focus on her art. Although Steiglitz was married, he and O’Keeffe fell in love, and had an affair for several years until he divorced his wife. Then they married shortly after. Although she said that she was in love with him, they had a very independent relationship, devoting themselves to their own work and living apart for months at a time.
O’Keeffe first visited New Mexico in 1929; she fell in love with the area and was very inspired by the landscape near Taos. She spent part of nearly every year in New Mexico between 1929 and 1949, before finally making her home near Santa Fe in 1949. Steiglitz died in 1946, and she never remarried. She was a prolific artist until the very end of her life – her failing vision caused her to start working in pottery, charcoal and watercolor several years before she died in 1986.
The galleries were interesting – they had works for the different time periods of her life – New York, Hawaii and of course Santa Fe. The exhibit explained how she spent several months in Hawaii in 1938 on commission to the Dole Pineapple Company; they wanted her to paint pineapple pictures for an advertising campaign. Curiously, although she painted many fruits and flowers during her time in Hawaii, she did not create the requested pineapple paintings until after she has returned to the continental United States.
Several of the galleries allowed photography (but sadly not the Hawaii exhibit gallery), so I took some photos of works from different periods in her life; I was impressed by the range of subjects and styles in which she painted. I was a bit surprised by the small size of the museum – they didn’t really have that many of her works. But I guess when you consider that she was very popular when she was alive, and sold a lot of her paintings, it makes sense that there wouldn’t be that many hanging around for a museum exhibit.
Overall, I found the museum worth a visit, but don’t expect to spend more than a couple of hours there. And with that, we were on our way to find more adventures!
Which is your favorite Georgia O’Keeffe painting?