Home / Music & Arts / The day artist Georgia O’Keeffe dies at 98 in 1986

The day artist Georgia O’Keeffe dies at 98 in 1986

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Photo shows American modernist Georgia O’Keeffe painting in her car at Ghost Ranch, N.M.

(Originally published by the Daily News on March 7, 1986. This story was written by Michael McGovern.)

Georgia O’Keeffe, 98, the distinguished painter and one of the pioneers of modern American art, died yesterday in St. Vincent hospital at 10:45 a.m. (12:45 p.m. New York time) and died an hour later, a spokesman said.

Born on a Wisconsin wheat farm of well-to-do Irish and Hungarian parents, O’Keeffe lived for 57 years in New Mexico, the prime source for her colors.

Sometimes vividly realistic, other times bleached, sometimes abstract, her works were starkly dramatic images of stones, bones, shells, flowers or clouds — reflection of a bold, adventurous spirit.

The second of seven children, she began as a girl of 10 to draw in Sun Prairie, Wis., and kept up a steady outpouring of work well into her 90s.

Daily News published this on March 7, 1986 New York Daily News

Daily News published this on March 7, 1986

Enlarge Georgia O'Keeffe is shown in a photo from Ralph Looney's book, "O'Keeffe and Me: A Treasured Friendship," published by University Press of Colorado, 1962. RALPH LOONEY/AP

Georgia O’Keeffe is shown in a photo from Ralph Looney’s book, “O’Keeffe and Me: A Treasured Friendship,” published by University Press of Colorado, 1962.

Enlarge

O’Keeffe first saw New Mexico by accident, detoured by floods in 1917 en route to Colorado for a vacation. Home for the last decades was an adobe home (“Every inch has been smoothed by woman’s hand”) in Abiquiu, a village of 200 to 300 in the Chama River Valley.

It was there in the desolate quiet that she employed the open blue sky and the clouds of calming shades of pink that inspired some of her classics, which sold for $ 50,000 to more than $ 200,000. Many of them now grace U.S. museums.

In 1916, some of her early drawings and watercolors were shown, without her knowledge, at the gallery of famed photographer Alfred Stieglitz.

She met Stieglitz when she went to the gallery to try to get the works taken down, but the photographer persuaded her to let them remain.

21116John Duricka/AP

Georgia O’ Keeffe, right, and Mrs. Joan Mondale admire one of O’Keeffe’s works hanging in the National Gallery of Art in Washington Wednesday, Nov. 10, 1977.

Photos by husband

Stiglitz began taking the hundreds of photographs of O’Keeffe that he collected during their association. About 50 of the pictures made up a 1978 exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York titled “Georgia O’Keeffe, a Portrait by Alfred Stieglitz.”

The couple was married in 1924, the same year O’Keeffe began the big flower paintings. She was 37, he 62. He died in 1946.

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