If Georgia O’Keeffe to you means gauzy flowers and southwestern motifs, take a look at her Modernist depictions of the cityscape in the 1920s.
[below, “East River From the 30th Story of the Shelton Hotel,” 1928]
Born in Wisconsin in 1887, O’Keeffe studied at the Art Students League in 1907, then came back to New York a few years later to attend Teachers College.
She returned once again in 1918 to live with photographer Alfred Stieglitz, who had been impressed by her charcoal drawings and forged a relationship with her through letters.
[Below, “East River No 1,” 1927]
The two married six years later, after Stieglitz’s divorce was finalized. They lived together in the Shelton Hotel at 49th Street and Lexington Avenue, and from her window O’Keeffe began painting the New York skyline.
“Although O’Keeffe’s paintings of skyscrapers might appear simplistic, their power lies in the perspective O’Keeffe employs in her technique,” explains this link from the University of Virginia.
[Below, “New York Night,” 1928-1929]
“Her paintings often times used the vantage point of being on the ground and looking up which conveys a sense of wonder an individual might experience while craning one’s neck to look up at the awe-inspiring skyscraper.
“Although the majority of the painting is comprised of dark buildings, the lighted windows in the skyscrapers and the lighted street area in the lower left-hand corner of the painting are suggestive of the living beings who breathe life into the city on a daily basis.”
O’Keeffe also painted the Radiator Building in Bryant Park, all glowing embers.
[O’Keeffe in 1918, photo taken by Alfred Stieglitz]