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 America’s distinguished female artists. O’Keeffe revolutionized modern art with her paintings of nature. Many consider her the “Mother of American Modernism.”

O’Keeffe’s favorite subject to paint was the flower. 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.

During her lifetime, Georgia O’Keeffe 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’s famous irises were an important preoccupation for many years; she favored the black iris, which she could only find at particular New York florists for about two weeks each spring. The flower’s enlargements and abstractions have frequently been interpreted in gynecological terms. O’Keeffe, on the other hand, rejects the idea that her flowers are sexual metaphors, believing that this is something that is generated by the observer, who assigns his own connections 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 brilliantly used, giving the painting a vibrant and bright appearance. This picture is an example of O’Keeffe’s Precisionism style, which he was well-known for. The flower portrayed has been enlarged in size, and the colors utilized 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. O’Keeffe 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. The petals were painted in dazzling reds and oranges, with a deep purple center and inner contours. There is no background to this painting that artfully draws focus onto the flowers.

Red Canna (1924)
red canna by georgia o'keeffeThis painting depicts a red canna flower. O’Keeffe composed it using abstract patterns derived from nature and defined using restrained brushwork. The vivid and bright colors that were so beautifully chosen evoke an energetic and natural vitality while uniquely complementing each other. One of the main features that make this painting fabulous is the intense red and orange hues subtly changing into pearly whites.

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

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UPDATED: 05 June 2021

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