Georgia O’Keeffe’s Famous Paintings: Flowers or Vaginas?
Female artists have been disregarded and ignored by many in the past for their remarkable work and artistic ability in the painting arena. Millions of people are inspired by the art of famous male artists like Michelangelo and Picasso, both phenomenal artists who shaped the definition and profession of art for centuries to come, but many people sadly remain oblivious of the great women who had enormous creative abilities, and talents such as: Artemisia Gentileschi, Frida Kahlo, Berthe Morisot, Helen Frankenthaler, and Georgia O’Keeffe.
O’Keeffe is known for her keen depiction of flowers that many have argued are symbolically vaginas. Even her most famous painting, Jimson Weed, known widely across the world after it “became the most expensive painting sold at auction by a female artist when it was bought for $44.4 million” in 2014, has been accused of being an undercover vagina..
Georgia O’Keeffe’s Contributions to Women Empowerment
Georgia O’Keeffe’s accomplishment of having the most expensive painting sold still does not give her credit for the lives she has also inspired as she continually advocated for women’s rights and for the empowerment of women everywhere by her artwork. O’Keeffe was born in Sun Prairie, WI, during a period when women were not treated with equality.
During Okeeffe’s life the suffragette and feminist movements took the globe by storm. Many women were inspired by her success in the painting and art industry as she symbolized a beacon of hope and light for women artists that would soon follow in her steps. Her paintings Cows Skull and Sky Above Clouds IV have been celebrated as examples of her detailed and remarkable abilities to bring the painting medium to life. Throughout the years of O’Keeffe’s success, she still had to combat misrepresentations of her artwork and masterpieces as a renown female artist.
The Misrepresentations of Georgia O’Keeffe’s Artwork
Misrepresentations of her paintings White Iris and Pink and Blue were continually represented with false rumors that they were actually symbolic of female genitalia. Rumors which O’Keeffe constantly denied. O’Keeffe’s paintings would soon spark controversies about the nature and context of her artwork as well as her personal beliefs about women. Although we’re not certain of where the rumors of O’Keeffe’s paintings symbolizing female vaginas originated, O’Keeffe constantly denied those allegations, instead she wanted her art to speak for itself and not be limited to just a sexual connotation.
Women empowerment was at its pinnacle during the height of O’Keeffe’s popularity in the 1920s. Women were fighting for their right to vote, women were fighting for their right to work, women were fighting for the same rights as men in the workforce and for the right to choose professions.
Georgia O’Keeffe is a major example of and inspiration for women’s empowerment. Her works continue to inspire young female artists to pursue art and not be limited by the patriarchal views that sometimes still exist in the art world. Whether or not O’Keeffe’s paintings are symbols of vaginas is neither here nor there. Their greater importance is symbolic of O’Keeffe’s place in the art world, her relentless pursuit of her artistic vision, her refusal to give in to perceptions of her work and her lasting influence on countless generations of artists — male and female. She was another incredible example of a woman empowered, following the mantra to #DoAnything.