All photos above by Alfred Stieglitz/CC-BY-SA-3.0

A painter of the American Southwest with a unique vision and a uniform, androgynous style

Kate Wertheimer  – March 5, 2020 | Updated March 11, 2020

Who She Was

Hitching a Ride
Though sometimes dour in pictures, O’Keeffe—seen here near her New Mexico home in 1944—did have a lighthearted side. Photo by Maria Chabot, courtesy of Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.

Photo by Maria Chabot, courtesy of Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

Georgia O’Keeffe—born in 1887 in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin—is one of the most influential artists in America, best known for her paintings of enlarged flowers, sun-bleached bones and the New Mexican landscape (specifically Abiquiú, where she lived and worked until her death in March of 1986). The “Mother of American Modernism,” O’Keeffe was one of the first female painters to achieve worldwide acclaim from both critics and the general public, while simultaneously staying true to her unique vision, based on finding nature’s essential and abstract forms. This vision extended to both her wardrobe and her residence, which was adorned with rocks and bones and had large windows looking out onto the Southwestern landscape.

What She Wore

Georgia in a Cloche
O’Keeffe in 1921. Photo Gift of Georgia O’Keeffe, through the generosity of The Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation and Jennifer and Joseph Duke, 1997/CC-BY-SA-3.0.

Gift of Georgia O’Keeffe, through the generosity of The Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation and Jennifer and Joseph Duke, 1997/CC-BY-SA-3.0

O’Keeffe is well known for her understated, often androgynous style of dress. She favored black and white clothes in loose silhouettes—large collared shirts, tunics, wide dusters—and made many of her own clothes, which she wore for many decades (some for as many as 60 years). O’Keeffe, true to her love of natural materials, kept to earthy fabrics like silk, wool, and cotton. On the ranch she wore sun hats and blue jeans; in photographs taken by her husband Alfred Stieglitz, she wore crisp white open-collared shirts or swathed herself in black to match her severe facial expressions. Throughout her life she stayed true to herself both in her art and in how she presented herself to the world, ignoring what was fashionable or “appropriate” for the time and instead dressing to please and express herself only.

Related: Georgia O’Keeffe’s Collection of Handwritten Recipes Sold to Yale Library

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