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Two Calla Lilies on Pink

Georgia O'Keeffe, American, 1887 - 1986

Made in United States, North and Central America


Oil on canvas

40 × 30 inches (101.6 × 76.2 cm) Framed: 41 9/16 × 31 1/2 × 2 inches (105.6 × 80 × 5.1 cm)

Curatorial Department:
American Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Bequest of Georgia O'Keeffe for the Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1987

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Georgia O’Keeffe once remarked, “What is my experience of the flower if not color?” This painting of two calla lilies is an extraordinary example of her floral compositions, made of sweeping, broad waves of subtly blended hues. The white petals, highlighted in green, are arranged against a pink backdrop, and from each one emerges a bright yellow pistil. Many have interpreted O’Keeffe’s depictions of floral anatomy in relation to sexuality and gender, but the artist always resisted these interpretations, considering them too specific and limiting.

Additional information:
  • PublicationMasterpieces from the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Impressionism and Modern Art

    Georgia O'Keeffe once remarked, "What is my experience of the flower if not color?"1 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. The artist's abstracted floral studies from the 1920s and 1930s have strong sexual overtones, although she 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. Emily Hage, from Masterpieces from the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Impressionism and Modern Art (2007), p. 212.

    1) Quoted in Elizabeth Hutton Turner, Georgia O'Keeffe: The Poetry of Things (Washington, D.C.: The Phillips Collection, 1999), p. vii.