Yellow Cactus


Georgia O'Keeffe ( American, 1887 - 1986 )

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General Description

Painted in 1929, Yellow Cactus was inspired by Georgia O'Keeffe's first trip to the arid Southwest. Her flower paintings quickly became one of her recurring themes, leading to volumes of criticism and suggestive interpretation. The artist stated that her goal was to force the viewer to stop and study such small things as flowers, which she achieved through her use of vibrant colors and large-format blossoms.

Excerpt from

DMA label text, 2015.

Fun Facts

  • In a 1939 exhibition catalogue, Georgia O'Keeffe discussed her flower paintings: "A flower is relatively small. Everyone has many associations with a flower—the idea of flowers. You put out your hand to touch the flower—lean forward to smell it—maybe touch it with your lips almost without thinking—or give it to someone to please them. Still—in a way—nobody sees a flower really—it is so small—we haven't time—and to see takes times. If I could paint the flower exactly as I see it no one would see what I see because I would paint it small like the flower is small. So I said to myself—I'll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking time to look at it—I will make even busy New Yorkers take time to see what I see of flowers."

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