Georgia O'Keeffe's stunning green and white image, 'An Orchid', which hangs in New York's Museum of Modern Art, was originally created in 1941 using pastel on paper, mounted on board.
In this work, she takes a close look at an orchid, so much so that her style is often considered to have Freudian connotations. Fast forward to the 1970s, and the rising Feminist movement attempted to categorise this image under feminine iconography and sexual empowerment, although O'Keeffe herself refused to associate herself with the movement.
As sensual as her painting appears to much of her audience, in her eyes, so she claimed, it was just an extremely accurate artistic study of the inside of the actual plant.
Despite not identifying as a feminist, O'Keeffe was a revolutionary modernist who paved the way for the success of other female artists due to the popularity of the unique style, which she developed.
She painted her flower series at a time when European artists were attracting the attention of the Americans; and conversely, she was one of the few American artists that managed to attract European attention at the time with images such as her orchid.
Since her death in 1986, this image continues to continues to court controversy while symbolising O'Keeffe's iconic status. Being a flower, it is a symbol of femininity, yet it is bold, uninhibited and provocative, and it is the combination of these elements that define her as an artist.
The rest of her flower series also show this style. Jimson Weed, White Calico Flower and her greatly loved Oriental Poppies (the prints of which are all available on this website) complement O'Keeffe's orchid, by depicting the sensuousness of nature as well as pushing artistic boundaries.