The Flower Paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe

georgia o'keefee
Georgia O’Keeffe

Georgia O’Keeffe was a modern day fine artist of flower oil paintings born in Wisconsin in 1887. She attended the Art Institute of Chicago in 1905-1906 and at the Art Students League, New York (1907–1908). During her art career she became one of Americans distinguished female artists. O’Keeffe revolutionized modern art with her paintings of nature and is generally recognized as the “Mother of American modernism”.

Her favorite subject matter to paint on canvas was the flower and she seemed to like the calla lily, poppy, canna, iris, petunia and jimson weed the most when it came to flowers. O’Keeffe frequently painted flora in large-format paintings with enlarged close up views of flower blossoms. This close up perspective gave the viewer a sense of looking at the blossom under magnification. Georgia O’Keeffe chose this approach because she believed no one really looks at flowers. Her large-format paintings would require the viewer to take a real look at flowers.


rose flower painting“Yellow Rose of Texas”
Flower Art by Teresa Bernard
18″ x 18″
Oils on stretched canvas

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During her lifetime, Georgia O’Keeffee painted many flower paintings. Some of her more well-known floral masterpieces include “Black Iris”, “Blue Morning Glories”, “Jimson Weed”, “Oriental Poppies” and “Red Canna”.

Black Iris (1926)
black iris by georgia o'keeffeO’Keeffe’ famous irises were an important preoccupation for many years; she favored the black iris, which she could only find at certain New York florists for about two weeks each spring. The enlargements and abstractions derived from the flower have often been explained in gynecological terms, almost clinical in their precision. However, O’Keeffe rejected the notion of her flowers as sexual metaphors – this is something she feels is created by the viewer who applies his own associations to the works, not hers.

Blue Morning Glories (1935)
blue morning glories by georgia o'keeffeThis oil painting features a close-up of blue morning glory flowers and is one of the most popular paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe. The colors are beautifully utilized, making the painting look very vivid and sharp. This painting is an example of the Precisionism style, for which O’Keeffe was quite popular for. The enlarged size of the flower depicted is eye catching and the colors are used are even more enchanting.

Jimson Weed (1936)
jimson weed by georgia o'keeffeThis oil painting depicts a large blossom of jimson weed, or datura and is part of a series of paintings O’Keeffe did of this plant. She was immensely fond of jimson weed and ignoring its toxicity, she allowed it to flourish around her patio. She paid tribute to the bloom in this painting, originally entitled Miracle Flower.

Oriental Poppies (1928)
oriental poppies by georgia o'keeffeThis painting depicts two giant poppy flowers. The original painting measures 30″ x 40″ and is an explosion of brilliant colors on a vast canvas, creating a mesmerizing effect. Dazzling reds and oranges were used as the main color of the petals with deep purple for center and the inner contours of the flowers. There is no background to this painting which artfully draws focus onto the flowers.

Red Canna (1924)
red canna by georgia o'keeffeThis painting depicts a red canna flower. O’Keeffee composed it using abstract patterns derived from nature and depicted by means of restrained brushwork. The vivid and bright colors that were so beautifully chosen evoke an energetic and natural vitality, all the while, complementing each other in a unique way. One of the main features that make this painting really wonderful is the intense red and orange hues that subtly change into pearly whites.

The flower paintings by Georgia O’Keeffee are a favorite of Teresa Bernard. If you enjoyed these floral paintings, you will want to check out more fine art paintings in this genre of art. See Flower Oil Paintings by Teresa Bernard.