Through Her Lens

Georgia O’Keeffe is at the top of my list of favorite artists. I like what I view as her independent spirit and appreciate her work for being, in my opinion, ahead of its time. She saw her environment with different eyes and painted it in her unique style.

During the mid 20th century, O’Keeffe became interested in photography. Her photos were mostly of her Abiquiu home and the surrounding New Mexico landscape. The result is showcased for the first time in an exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. It opened my eyes to a new way of thinking about her work.

Her goal was not to become a great photographer but rather to capture what she saw in a variety of ways. She shot the same thing over and over walking around in order to see it in different light or from a new angle. In that way, the photos have some of the same passions as her paintings.

It was not unusual for her to shoot objects such as the jimsonweed that were subject for paintings she had done years before.

The Chama River appears to have been a favorite spot to explore with her camera.

View of the River, 1946

It was a place that had drawn her years before as this painting was done ahead of her seeing the river through her lens.

What touched me about this exhibit is that it revealed O’Keeffe’s ability to see artistic value in numerous objects whether a landscape, a flower, a skull or a ladder leaning against a wall.

Small Purple Hills, 1934

How she then interpreted those same things in a painting is what draws me again and again to her work.

O’Keeffe not only used her photos as inspiration but she often sent them to friends with handwritten notes on the back. How I wish one of them had been sent to me!

Seeing this exhibit only confirmed to me those qualities that I find unique in both her person and her art. Thanks to Todd Webb’s photos of her, I got an even better look.

12 thoughts on “Through Her Lens

  1. She was amazing! I saw her museum in Santa Fe… unique in so many ways!

  2. Great post, Linda. I visited the Georgia O’Keeffe museum in Santa Fe more than twenty years ago. She was truly gifted and her artistry endures!

  3. When I saw the very first photo I was like, “damn, she’s good” and then read on to they were GA’s. 😄

    Great post. Very informative.

  4. Wow! Would love to see this exhibition. Thanks for writing about it. Haven’t been in Houston for more than 2 years now, though. (Family did finally make it to Maine over Christmas, though!)

  5. Lovely. I really like the photographs of her.

  6. Love this. I went to the Georgia O’Keeffe museum in Santa Fe on a trip we drove across country in 2016. It was a wonderful experience, as is this exhibit you attended. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Lucky we are to have a museum that preserves O’Keeffe’s legacy.

  7. Thank you so much for posting this fascinating look at this talented artist’s photos!

  8. She was a pioneer for female artists and modern art. Her florals are my favorites.

  9. Wonderful images! Thanks for sharing them. A remarkable woman.

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