Georgia O’Keefe dies - HISTORY
Year
1986

Georgia O’Keefe dies

Georgia O’Keefe, the artist who gained worldwide fame for her austere minimalist paintings of the American southwest, dies in Santa Fe at the age of 98.

Born in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, in 1887, O’Keefe grew up in Virginia and first studied painting at the Art Institute of Chicago. Initially, she embraced a highly abstracted, urban style of art. She later moved to New York where she thrived within the growing community of abstract expressionists. Beginning in 1912, though, she began spending time in Texas and she became the head of the art department at the West Texas State Normal College in 1916. O’Keefe’s time in Texas sparked her enduring fascination with the stark and powerful western landscape. She began to paint more representational images that drew on the natural forms of the canyons and plains that surrounded her. O’Keefe’s paintings of cow skulls and calla lilies gained particular attention and won her an enthusiastic audience.

Her marriage to the New York art dealer and photographer Alfred Stieglitz brought O’Keefe back to the northeast. For a decade, she divided her time between New York City and the couple’s home in Lake George, New York. In 1919, O’Keefe made a brief visit to the small New Mexican village of Taos, and she returned for a longer stay in 1929. Attracted to the clear desert light and snow-capped mountains, she began returning to New Mexico every summer to paint. O’Keefe found a vibrant and supportive community among the artists that had been flocking to Taos and Santa Fe since the 1890s.

After Stieglitz died in 1949, O’Keefe permanently relocated to Abiquiu, New Mexico. There she continued to produce her hauntingly simple images of the southwestern land she loved. By the time she died in 1986, O’Keefe was considered one of the preeminent artists of the American West and had inspired legions of imitators.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Kohl elected West German chancellor

Helmut Kohl, the interim chancellor of West Germany since the fall of Helmut Schmidt’s Social Democrat government in 1982, is elected German chancellor as his Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party is voted back into power.Elected as Rhine-Palatinate state premier in 1969, Kohl ...read more

Michelangelo born

Michelangelo Buonarroti, the greatest of the Italian Renaissance artists, is born in the small village of Caprese on March 6, 1475. The son of a government administrator, he grew up in Florence, a center of the early Renaissance movement, and became an artist’s apprentice at age ...read more

Bayer patents aspirin

Now the most common drug in household medicine cabinets, acetylsalicylic acid was originally made from a chemical found in the bark of willow trees. In its primitive form, the active ingredient, salicin, was used for centuries in folk medicine, beginning in ancient Greece when ...read more

U.S. is sending Marines to South Vietnam

The White House confirms reports that, at the request of South Vietnam, the United States is sending two battalions of U.S. Marines for security work at the Da Nang air base, which will hopefully free South Vietnamese troops for combat. On March 1, Ambassador Maxwell Taylor ...read more

Operation Lam Son 719 continues

Operation Lam Son 719 continues as reinforced South Vietnamese forces push into Tchepone, a major enemy supply center located on Route 9 in Laos. The base was deserted and almost completely destroyed as a result of American bombing raids.The operation, begun on February 8, ...read more

Real Madrid founded

On this day in 1902, the Madrid Foot Ball Club is founded by a group of fans in Madrid, Spain. Later known as Real Madrid, the club would become the most successful European football (soccer) franchise of the 20th century.With its trademark blue-and-white uniforms (originally ...read more

Monroe signs the Missouri Compromise

On this day in 1820, President James Monroe signs the Missouri Compromise, also known as the Compromise Bill of 1820, into law. The bill attempted to equalize the number of slave-holding states and free states in the country, allowing Missouri into the Union as a slave state ...read more

The death spiral of Napster begins

In the year 2000, a new company called Napster created something of a music-fan’s utopia—a world in which nearly every song ever recorded was instantly available on your home computer—for free. Even to some at the time, it sounded too good to be true, and in the end, it was. The ...read more

Gabriel Garcia Marquez is born

Gabriel Garcia Marquez is born in Arataca, Colombia. As a child, his grandmother told him fantastic stories of magical events, relating them as if they were fact. These early stories helped shape his own signature writing style, later known as “magical realism.”Garcia Marquez ...read more

Rob Reiner born

On this day in 1947, the filmmaker and actor Rob Reiner is born in New York City.Reiner was the son of Carl Reiner, then a regular on Sid Caesar’s famous television comedy program Your Show of Shows and its follow-up, Caesar’s Hour, where he had worked with such talented comedy ...read more

The Rosenberg trial begins

The trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg begins in New York Southern District federal court. Judge Irving R. Kaufman presides over the espionage prosecution of the couple accused of selling nuclear secrets to the Russians (treason could not be charged because the United States was ...read more

Georgi Malenkov succeeds Stalin

Just one day after the death of long-time Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, Georgi Malenkov is named premier and first secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Malenkov’s tenure was extremely brief, and within a matter of weeks he was pushed aside by Nikita ...read more

Dred Scott decision

On this day in 1857, the United States Supreme Court issues a decision in the Dred Scott case, affirming the right of slave owners to take their slaves into the Western territories, therebynegating the doctrine of popular sovereignty and severely undermining the platform of the ...read more

Auto pioneer Gottlieb Daimler dies

Gottlieb Daimler, the German engineer who invented an early version of the internal combustion engine and founded an auto company bearing his name, dies at the age of 65 on this day in 1900.Daimler, who was born on March 17, 1834, in Schorndorf, Germany, apprenticed as a gunsmith ...read more