About the Painting
Also referred to as Apple Family 2, this small horizontal canvas features a collection of ten apples. It was created during a visit to Lake George with O’Keeffe’s future husband, Alfred Stieglitz. Located in New York’s Adirondack Park, Lake George was the setting for many of the artist’s works. From 1918 until 1934, O’Keeffe spent part of her time at a home by the lake and created over 200 paintings at her studio.
Appearing like a close-up, apples of diverse sizes and colours sit on a white cloth in Apple Family II. Since much of the still life is occupied by the apples. As a result, colour dominates the painting including various shades of red, brown and yellow. The apples in the painting showcase O’Keeffe’s distinctive style. Specifically, the painting illustrates a blend of abstract and precisionism styles. The somewhat misshaped bodies of the apples plus the tonal gradation are two unique characteristics of O’Keeffe’s paintings.
O'Keeffe painted works similar to Apple Family II, including Apple Family I in the same year. Located at the Milwaukee Art Museum, Apple Family III is another oil on canvas with a grouping of apples. Painted in 1921, the painting boasts the same style and tonal gradation. Both paintings look almost photographic and realistic.
Close-up views of apples reflect a style the American artist was known for creating. One of O’Keeffe’s trademarks were paintings of enlarged objects found in nature, particularly flowers. The simple yet dramatic The Green Apple also depicts a large apple. Completed in 1922, the painting also illustrate the painter’s idea of a simple and meaningful life. “It is only by selection, by elimination, and by emphasis that we get at the real meaning of things”, Georgia O’Keeffe remarked.
Apple Family II also showcases O’Keeffe’s love of painting subjects from her life. Many of her paintings included images of landscapes in New Mexico, where the artist travelled and lived. She also created several well-known paintings of skyscrapers in New York City, where she lived in the 1920s. Similarly, her paintings of apples are generally linked to her time at Lake George.