Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986) was a major figure in modern American art for some seven decades. Importantly, her fame was not associated with shifting art styles and trends, but rather with her own unique vision, based on finding essential and abstract forms in nature.
O’Keeffe’s primary subjects were landscapes, flowers, and bones, each explored in successive series over several years. Certain works went on for decades, producing 12 or more variations of an original image. Among these, O’Keeffe’s magnified pictures of calla lilies and irises are her most famous. Enlarging the tiniest petals to fill an entire canvas, O’Keeffe created a proto-abstract vocabulary of shapes and lines, earning her the moniker “mother of American modernism.” In 1946, O’Keeffe became the first female artist to be given a solo show at the MoMA in New York.