Georgia O'Keefe: Sky Above Clouds-- An essay about O'Keefe's 1965 painting Sky Above clouds IV.

Essay by mistahwoofUniversity, Bachelor's April 2002

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While there might be something heroic about it, today it is not very likely that an abstract painter is would become a cultural heroine. But that is what Georgia O'Keefe became, a model of the modern liberated woman, compared by some to the dancer Isador Duncan and the writer Gertrude Stein (Honour and Flemming 695-96). O'Keefe is considered one of the earliest abstract painters on the United States. But to achieve this was not an easy task, just the making of her paintings was sometimes a physical and logistical challenge, as in the case of her famous painting at The Art Institute of Chicago, Sky Above Clouds IV. Some even say that she has an influence on younger artists, which suggests that she is still seen as a heroine in some people's eyes.

Though, generally speaking, abstraction is not very popular in the art world today; "over the past 10 to 15 years, painting's, especially abstract painting's, resurgence has been ignored in the Whitney Biennials and in most of the international art festivals."

(Speh), it was just blooming in the United States at the turn of the twentieth century. Honour and Flemming (695) write that there was "a small but strong and steady current in America towards abstraction." And O'Keefe was a part of that current if not one of the forces behind it. Though they write that her work was "not strictly abstract.. she created a vocabulary of personal forms which often hover ambiguously between representation and abstraction" (Honour and Flemming 696). That is a good description of many of her paintings, such as those that Alfred Stieglitz(who later became her husband) showed in 1916 at his gallery, the one she sold from that show was "a black shape with smoke above it, a picture of the early morning...