Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Exhibition Preview 1
Early No. 2, 1915
No. 20 - from Music - Special, 1915
Blue II, 1916
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In 1915 O'Keeffe decided to strike out in a new direction. Breaking with her earlier training, she chose abstraction as the mode best suited to what she wanted to express. Perhaps even more surprising than O'Keeffe's decision to turn her back on realism was the form that her adventurous abstractions took.

Instead of looking to the dominant rectilinear style favored by the Cubists, O'Keeffe charted her own course by developing a language of spiraling, arcing forms that drew variously upon Art Nouveau design, East Asian art (filtered through the teachings of Arthur Wesley Dow), and recent trends in photography. Also of great importance to her at this time was the book Concerning the Spiritual in Art by the European modernist Wassily Kandinsky, in which he encouraged artists to "be blind to . . . conventions of form" and to "watch only the trend of inner need, and harken to its words alone."

The eloquent artistic language that O'Keeffe developed during the early years of her career proved to be both powerful and adaptable. With it, she was soon able to record everything from symbolic representations of her emotional state, to the experience of listening to music, to her reaction to the subtle rhythms and vast spaces of the natural world.