In 1939, when she was 51, Georgia O’Keeffe spent nine weeks in Hawaii and produced 17 paintings. They were first exhibited in New York City in 1940, and the exhibit was entitled “Visions of Hawaii.”
More recently, an exhibit of the same paintings was held at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. This exhibit included a living display of the plants depicted in her paintings, representing the three major non-native groups of Hawaiian flora. While Hawaii has 1200 native plant species, ninety percent of them exist nowhere else in the world. Many of the native plants are endangered so cannot be shipped beyond the state. For example, the state flower, a yellow flowering hibiscus, Hibiscus brackenridgei, is one of those endangered.
Ten percent of Hawaii’s native species are already extinct, and half of those remaining are at risk, wrote William L. Hamilton in his article in the New York Times, May 25, 2018. He noted that O’Keeffe as an art world star and her paintings of larger-than life-flowers are unique.
O’Keeffe holds the record at auction for a painting by a women—$44.4 million for her 1932 floral still life “Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1,” which is owned by the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. Try to visit to admire this floral masterpiece.