Weary of life in the metropolis, O’Keeffe began taking regular retreats to Lake George, New York, and then to New Mexico. After her first extended trip to the Southwest in 1929, her artistic interests shifted from the buildings of New York to the nature of New Mexico. In this work, O’Keeffe isolates a single skull, highlighting its jagged edges, worn surfaces, and bleached color. To O’Keeffe, such bones represented the desert’s enduring beauty and the strength of the American spirit, which is alluded to in the striped background. In 1949 O’Keeffe settled permanently in New Mexico, where she lived until her death in 1986.
Inscription: Initialed (on cardboard backing, in center of five-pointed star, in graphite): OK
the artist (1931–52; on extended loan to MMA, 1949–52; her gift as part of the Alfred Stieglitz Collection to MMA)
New York. An American Place. "Georgia O'Keeffe: 33 New Paintings," December 27, 1931–February 11, 1932, no catalogue.
Art Institute of Chicago. "Georgia O'Keeffe," January 21–February 22, 1943, no. 44.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "20th Century Painters: A Special Exhibition of Oils, Water Colors and Drawings Selected from the Collections of American Art in the Metropolitan Museum," June 16–October 29, 1950, unnum. brochure (p. 9).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Fourteen American Masters: Paintings from Colonial Times to Today," October 16, 1958–January 4, 1959, no catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Three Centuries of American Painting," April 9–October 17, 1965, unnum. checklist.
The White House, Washington D.C. "The White House Festival of the Arts," June 14, 1965, brochure no. 28.
New York. Whitney Museum of American Art. "Georgia O'Keeffe," October 8–November 29, 1970, no. 73.
Art Institute of Chicago. "Georgia O'Keeffe," January 6–February 7, 1971, no. 73.
San Francisco Museum of Art. "Georgia O'Keeffe," March 15–April 30, 1971, no. 73.
Moscow. State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. "Representations of America," December 15, 1977–February 15, 1978, no catalogue.
Leningrad. State Hermitage Museum. "Representations of America," March 15–May 15, 1978, no catalogue.
Minsk, Belarus. Palace of Art. "Representations of America," June 15–August 15, 1978, no catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Tribute to a Curator: Robert Beverly Hale," November 16, 1978–March 4, 1979, extended to March 18, 1979, unnum. checklist.
New York. Whitney Museum of American Art. "William Carlos Williams and the American Scene, 1920–1940," December 12, 1978–February 4,1979, unnumbered cat. (fig. 102).
Canberra. Australian National Gallery. "20th Century Masters from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," March 1–April 27, 1986, unnumbered cat. (p. 57).
Brisbane. Queensland Art Gallery. "20th Century Masters from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," May 7–July 1, 1986, unnumbered cat.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Georgia O'Keeffe: 1887–1986," November 19, 1988–February 5, 1989, not in catalogue (unnumbered checklist addenda).
Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "Georgia O'Keeffe: 1887–1986," March 30–June 18, 1989, not in catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "14 Americans," July 16, 1990–January 2, 1991, no catalogue.
Janet Souter. Georgia O'Keeffe. New York, 2005, pp. 117, 120, 122, ill.
John Carlin and Jonathan Fineberg. Imagining America: Icons of 20th-Century American Art. New Haven and London, 2005, pp. 42, 46, 51–52, ill. pp. 48 (overall), 2, 49 (details).
Susan Wright. Georgia O'Keeffe: An Eternal Spirit. (1st ed., 1996). [New York], 2006, pp. 84-85, ill.
Lothar Schirmer, ed. Georgia O'Keeffe/John Loengard: Paintings and Photographs, a Visit to Abiquiu and Ghost Ranch. Munich, 2006, book jacket (detail ill.), fig. 47.
Jonathan Stuhlman and Barbara Buhler Lynes. Georgia O'Keeffe: Circling Around Abstraction. Exh. cat., Norton Museum of Art. West Palm Beach, 2007, p. 30, fig. 17.
Katja Fauth. Modernist Visions in Taos: Mabel Dodge Luhan and the Artists of the Stieglitz Circle. Marburg, Germany, 2009, pp. 163, 171-73, 192, fig. 35.
Lisa Mintz Messinger inStieglitz and His Artists: Matisse to O'Keeffe. The Alfred Stieglitz Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ed. Lisa Mintz Messinger. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2011, pp. 8, 14, 193, 202-3, 281, no. 189, ill. (color).
Sarah Greenough, ed. My Faraway One: Selected Letters of Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz. Vol. 1, 1915–1933. New Haven, Conn., 2011, pp. 596, 603–4, 630.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New York, 2012, p. 416, ill. (color).
Barbara Buhler Lynes Carolyn Kastner. Georgia O'Keeffe in New Mexico. Exh. cat.Sante Fe, 2012, pp. 34–35.