Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986)
No. 8 - Special (Drawing No. 8)
Charcoal on paper
Sheet (Irregular): 24 1/2 × 18 7/8 in. (62.2 × 47.9 cm)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase, with funds from the Mr. and Mrs. Arthur G. Altschul Purchase Fund
Rights and Reproductions Information
© artist or artist’s estate
Georgia O’Keeffe was one of the first American artists to create abstract works of art, but instead of using the fragmented Cubist forms that inspired many American and European modernists, she developed her own brand of organic abstraction linked to rhythms found in the natural world. Beginning in 1915, O’Keeffe created a series of abstract drawings in charcoal, using forms that she had stored in her memory to transcribe intangible feelings that were beyond her conscious grasp—the “unknown” as she called it. In Drawing No. 8, the unfurling spiral form appears as a symbol of generation, of life emerging from a mysterious void. The spiral would become a recurring element of O’Keeffe’s work—a motif that she found in an array of subjects, including plants, flowers, water, and the curling smoke emitted by trains and skyscrapers.