Georgia O'Keeffe: Highlights from the Ingalls Library and Museum Archives

Submitted by Heather Saunders on

We’re excited that Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern opens at the Cleveland Museum of Art on November 23. The show is organized by the Brooklyn Museum with guest curator Wanda M. Corn, Robert and Ruth Halperin Professor Emerita in Art History, Stanford University and is made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Known as the mother of American modernism, O’Keeffe used expressive colors and simplified shapes in her abstracted paintings of flowers, New York City architecture, and New Mexico landscapes.

Her accolades were many; for example, in The New York Times, she was called “brilliantly original” with a “transforming vision” and The New York Sun declared that If she were English...she would be Dame O’Keeffe.” If you want to read more, come check out the library’s clipping files, which date back a century. You can also read about O’Keeffe’s breakthroughs, such as being the first woman to have had a retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, and encounter local news, such as her unexpected bequest of five works that brought the CMA’s collection of O’Keeffe works from two to seven.

In the library’s stacks featuring print publications, there are highlights like enigmatic photographs of the artist by her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, and the auction catalog marking her record for the highest price paid at auction for a painting by a woman; Jimson Weed White Flower No. 1 was expected to fetch between $10,000,000 and $15,000,000 but the actual price was $44,405,000!

Gems from the archives include a letter from O'Keeffe to former director William M. Milliken, referring to the museum as a very alive pleasant place; a letter from Helen S. Foote, Associate Curator of Decorative Arts at the time, recalling with...pleasure meeting the artist; and this photo of O'Keeffe serving on the May Show jury of 1937 (source: Digital Collections, library.clevelandart.org).


Lastly, you can also learn about the artist by visiting https://ask.clevelandart.org/questions, for which the library and archives supplies answers. One recent visitor asked where O’Keeffe was from. Georgia O'Keeffe was born in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, where she was raised on a farm. She moved to Williamsburg, Virginia at age 15, following her family, who had relocated there two years earlier. After studying art in Chicago and New York and continuing to move around, she launched her career in New York and eventually moved to New Mexico, where she lived to the age of 98.