Goddess O’Keeffe
Georgia O’Keeffe with one of her paintings in Abiquiú, New Mexico, 1960. Photo by Tony Vaccaro / Getty Images
Art + Stories, Experiences

Goddess O’Keeffe

The Life of Georgia O’Keeffe
Julia Fiedorczuk
time 13 minutes

They would call her the mother of American art. She saw beauty in both flowers and animal bones, and successfully developed a new language in painting: both sensual and precise, realistic and abstract.

The last, 39th, place at the triangular table The Dinner Party, an artwork by Judy Chicago, belongs to Georgia O’Keeffe. Completed in 1979, this monumental installation – nowadays considered an icon of feminist art – celebrates diverse art by women and symbolically restores them to their rightful place in the history of Western culture. Each place setting consists of a china plate, embroidered table runner, gold ceramic chalice, napkin and cutlery. Below the table, on the floor made of porcelain tiles, there are inscribed the names of a further 999 women guests: poets, artists, mystics, warriors, historical and mythological figures, about whom our civilization, out of spite, would rather not remember.

The first place setting represents the Primordial Goddess. The plate depicts a butterfly, whose wings are not yet fully open whereas its thorax, as Chicago clarifies, epitomizes the hot interior of both the Earth and human soul. The whole picture, however, brings to mind the intimate parts of the female body. The plate sits on the table runner embellished with calfskin and little white shells. O’Keeffe, who takes her seat at the table as the last one, occupies pride of place right next to the Primordial Goddess. The motifs adorning her plate are shaped similarly to those on the Goddess’s plate and remind us, at the same time, of one of her most famous paintings: a black iris with a dark inside and purple and pink petals. O’Keeffe, recognized as the mother of American art, who made ostentatiously beautiful close-up portraits of flowers – as if from the bee’s or butterfly’s perspective – embodied unshakeable female power both in her life and art. Courageous, uncompromising, defiant, committed to the ideas of artistic and personal


You’ve reached your free article’s limit this month. You can get unlimited access to all our articles and audio content with our digital subscription. If you have an active subscription, please log in.


Also read:

A Prayer Without Words
Caspar David Friedrich, “Wanderer above the Sea of Fog”, oil on canvas, c. 1818, Hamburger Kunsthalle
Art + Stories

A Prayer Without Words

The Story of the Wanderer
Anna Arno

A tale of silence, an icon of human solitude in the face of the forces of nature, or perhaps a memento of the great artist? Take a journey through the maze of interpretations of one of the most famous paintings in history.

I come down from the mountains,
The valley dims, the sea roars.
I wander silently and am somewhat unhappy,
And my sighs always ask "Where?"

Continue reading