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Georgia O'Keeffe

No. 8 - Special (Drawing No. 8)

1916

Artist

Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986)

Title

No. 8 - Special (Drawing No. 8)

Date

1916

Medium

Charcoal on paper

Dimensions

Sheet (Irregular): 24 1/2 × 18 7/8 in. (62.2 × 47.9 cm)

Credit line

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase, with funds from the Mr. and Mrs. Arthur G. Altschul Purchase Fund

Accession number

85.52

Object Label

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.

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