The painting, “Grey lines with black blue and yellow,” was created by Georgia O’Keeffe in 1923.
Georgia O’Keeffe was an American artist born on November 15, 1887. O’Keeffe painted nature to depict her feelings. Her paintings were mostly flowers and landscapes. O’Keeffe contributed to the development of modern art in America, gaining admiration during the New York’s art world in 1920s. She was the pioneer of artworks that depict nature and shapes (Mfah.org). Like other famous artists, O’Keeffe developed the desire to be an artist at the age of 12 years. Although she joined an art school at 12 years old, she said what she learned there was irrelevant to what she wanted to paint. In 1912, she was influenced by the revolutionary ideas of Arthur Wesley Dow, an artists and designer, who emphasized the use of composition- arrangement of shapes and colours (Tate.org.uk). Georgia’s apprenticeship phase was characterized by other artists who experimented with abstract art. As she progressed mastery, she developed her own unique style, which combined abstract and realistic.
The artwork, “Grey Lines with Black Blue and Yellow, 1923,” depicts a flower or female anatomy- a vagina. The artwork was painted with oil on canvas with grey, black, blue and yellow lines. Although the image is three-dimensional, it is intended to be viewed at only one angle for a full experience (Georgiaokeeffe.net). O’Keeffe uses line, shadow and light in the painting to depict the shape of a flower or a vagina. The lines are used to depict a budding flower (Mfah.org). O’Keeffe combined straight lines and curves to come up with a flower. O’Keeffe uses shadow between the lines, for example, between the blue lines, which show the inside of a flower or labia minora for a vagina. Also, O’Keeffe uses reflected light to make the image clear.
The artwork, “Grey Lines with Black, Blue and Yellow, 1923,” was made to depict nature in paintings. The artwork was used to appreciate nature and to showcase the combination of abstract and reality in art. At the age of 12 years old, O’Keeffe joined an art school, which helped to hone her painting skills, although she said what she learned at the art school was not relevant (Tate.org.uk). On the surface, it might have been irrelevant, but the interaction with other painters at the school helped to sharpen her painting skills. In 1912, she adopted Arthur Wesley Dow’s style of composition, which helped to represent ideas by combining shapes and colors.
O’Keeffe’s apprenticeship phase was characterized by abstract art from other artists. Her road to mastery paved way to the development of her unique style- combination of abstract reality (Reilly 12). Therefore, O’Keeffe was influenced by Arthur Wesley Dow and other artists in the 1920s who used abstract style. O’Keeffe paid tribute to Arthur when she said, “His idea was, to put it simply, fill a space in a beautiful way.” (Tate.org.uk). O’Keeffe developed her own style- a combination of abstract and reality- to “fill a space in a beautiful way,” which is depicted in her painting- Grey Lines with Black, Blue and Yellow, 1923.
O’Keeffe communicates the culture of modernism in the artwork. The fusion of the abstract and reality shows that artists are developing their styles to represents ideas in a beautiful way. I agree with the established interpretations because artwork has evolved and continues to evolve. Any artist who wants to stay relevant must develop his or her own style. For the artwork, “Grey Lines with Black, Blue and Yellow, 1923,” it tells us that O’Keeffe was a free-thinker, who was fascinated by nature and did not shy away from presenting her ideas as she has conceived them. The ideas expressed, therefore, are that of free-thinking, and development of a unique style of painting- in this case, a combination of abstract and reality.
I selected the artwork because I like it, the drawing and style. I like the piece of art because the artist’s combination of abstract and reality. Initially, I understood the piece of art as representation of a vagina, although research says it is a representation of a flower. Well, the painting depicts both a flower and a vagina. However, I am convinced that O’Keeffe had a vagina in mind when painting, because the use of lines and shadow is inclined more to depicting a vagina than a flower. Also, O’Keeffe painted the piece of art in 1923, a time when the Feminist Movement was advocating for women’s rights over their reproductive health. For example, the Women’s Bureau of the Department of Labor was established in 1920 to give women power to have control over their body, especially their sexuality (nationalwomenshistoryalliance.org). Therefore, O’Keeffe could have wanted to make women comfortable with their sexuality. By representing a vagina, O’Keeffe sent a message to women that they should be proud of their sexuality.
Georgia O’Keeffe. “Grey Lines with Black, Blue and Yellow, 1923 by Georgia O’Keeffe.” Henri Matisse, 2011, www.georgiaokeeffe.net/grey-line-with-black-blue-and-yellow.jsp.
Lowry, Vicky. “Georgia on My Mind.” Architectural Digest, vol. 73, no. 7, July 2016, p. 22.
Reilly, Katie. “Georgia O’Keeffe Reveals Inspiration Behind Some of Her Most Famous Paintings in Newly Uncovered Letters.” Time.Com, Mar. 2019, p. N.PAG.
MFAH. “The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.” MFAH, 0AD, www.mfah.org/art/detail/4197.
National Women’s History Alliance. “History of the Women’s Rights Movement.” National Women’s History Alliance, nationalwomenshistoryalliance.org/resources/womens-rights-movement/history-of-the-womens-rights-movement/.
Tate. “Who Is Georgia O’Keeffe? – Who Are They?” Tate Kids, www.tate.org.uk/kids/explore/who-is/who-georgia-okeeffe.
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