Two Calla Lily on Pink, 1928 by Georgia O'Keeffe

Georgia O'Keeffe once remarked, "What is my experience of the flower if not color?" This large-scale image of two calla lilies, made of broad, sweeping waves of subtly blended hues, is an extraordinary example of her floral paintings. The white petals, highlighted in green and penetrated by two bright yellow pistils, reach upward against a pink backdrop, set off by the dark green stems on the bottom left. Although some critics claim that the artist's abstracted floral studies from the 1920s and 1930s have strong sexual overtones, O'Keeffe denied that this was her intention.

O'Keeffe, who was familiar with the photographs of Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, Paul Strand, and Charles Sheeler, was intrigued by the aesthetics of photography and adopted the compositional device of isolating certain details and magnifying close-up angles, an approach she applied to her abstracted, expressive paintings. In 1929, shortly after completing Two Calla Lilies on Pink, she began spending her summers painting in New Mexico, and in 1949 she moved permanently to the former Native American village of Abiquiu, near Santa Fe, where she pursued her fascination with the striking forms of the natural world.