At the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Texas: Oct. 17, 2021-Jan. 23, 2022.

                                                                          Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) Photo by Alfred Stieglitz,1918

Following her death in 1986, more than 400 of Georgia O’Keeffe’s photographs were given to the Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation and later housed in a museum built in 1997 to store many works of her art in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The director of the museum, Cody Hartley, made it known to scholars that they had a treasure trove of black and white photos by O’Keeffe taken between 1917 and 1970.  The curator of photography, Lisa Volpe, at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, was encouraged by her director, Gary Tinterow, to dive in and formulate an exhibition that he would share with three other museums noted below. These works embrace the signature artistic approach that Georgia brought to every aspect of her art as she used line, shape, space and form to bring her observations to her audience.

O’Keeffe came to New York in 1914 from Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, to study art at Teachers College, Columbia University and while there, she met her soon-to-be husband, Alfred Stieglitz. He was noted as one of the major pioneers in the field of modern photography along with his peers, Edward Steichen and Paul Strand. Georgia therefore had the ‘best of kind’ on which to model her own photograpic work. She was hired by the Hawaiian Pineapple Company in 1939 and after nine weeks there, she produced both paintings and photographs like the following which showed her observations of natural surroundings in both media .[1]

                                                                              Natural Stone Arch, Aleamai Beach,  Maui, 1939, black and white photo

                                Black Lava Bridge, Aleamai Beach, Maui, 1939, oil on canvas

Following her divorce from Alfred Stieglitz in 1946, Georgia spent a lot of time in her new home 53 miles outside Santa Fe, New Mexico in a rural community known as Abiquiu, named as such for the word meaning hoot of an owl, to the indigenous Pueblo Indians.  Her home was a simple adobe structure made of wood and mud brick where she lived with two dogs and many visitors. The Jimsonweed plants in her garden became a favorite subject for both her photographs and oils on canvas.

                                                                                      Jimsonweed (datura stramonium) 1964-68

Jimsonweed/White Flower, 1932

Crystal Bridges Museum, Bentonville, Arkansas, oil on canvas

This oil on canvas sold in November of 2014 to Walmart heiress, Alice Walton, for a sum of $44.4 million dollars at a Sotheby’s auction which is the most expensive picture ever sold by a female artist.[2]

                                                                        Salita Door and Patio,  Abiquiu, New Mexico, black and white photo

The simplicity of her environment in Abiquiu is noted in this photo which shows how she captured her patio  in  black and white form.  After climbing up that ladder, she also painted a  view of the neighboring mountains from  the roof of her home as  noted below.

                                                                           Black Mesa Landscape, New Mexico, 1930, oil on canvas

There is a wonderful catalog accompanying this show which educates each reader about how O’Keeffe took her photos as a way to frame her views of the natural treasures in her various environments.  It was this critical eye that made her such a celebrated artist.  With her personal correspondence in the Beinecke Library at Yale University and her photos and some of her paintings at the O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, scholars can reconstruct her travels and artistic efforts throughout her 99 years of life. She was indeed one of the finest  American female artists of our time.[3]


Georgia O’Keeffe, Photographer by Lisa Volpe (Author); an essay by Ariel Plotek.  “A groundbreaking introduction to the photographic work of an iconic modern artist.” Catalogue of the MFA, Houston show, $50

Georgia O’Keeffe, Visions of Hawai’i.  This is the catalogue from the 2018 New York Botanical Garden show of Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings commissioned by the Hawaiian Pineapple company.  $28.69


The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston – Georgia O’Keeffe, Photographer.  Through January 17, 2022


Future venues for this exhibition:

Addison Gallery, Phillips Academy, Andover, Mass.: Feb 26- June 12, 2022

Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colo.: July 3-Nov. 6, 2022

Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio: Feb. 3- May 7, 2023







[1]  Volpe, Lisa. Georgia O’Keeffe, Photographer. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 2121, p. 86.

[2] Eileen Kinsella, Artnet News, November 20, 2014.

[3]  Volpe, Lisa,op.cit.,p.8.