Open Clam Shell
Georgia O'Keeffe ( American, 1887 - 1986 )
Although she is often associated with motifs from the southwestern United States, Georgia O’Keeffe had been fascinated with seashells since childhood. Throughout her life, she collected shells from her travels to the Caribbean, Mexico, and the Eastern Seaboard. O’Keeffe recounted that even in the desert she would hold them up to her ear to recall the sounds of the sea. These clamshell paintings were made during a summer visit to York Beach, Maine. Although the suggestive imagery of the open and closed shells has often been associated with female anatomy, the artist rejected this reading of her work. A third painting in the series, Slightly Open Clamshell, is in the collection of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut.