Georgia O'Keeffe was born near Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, in 1887. During her teens and early adulthood, O'Keeffe lived in Virginia, Chicago, and New York. She studied with John Vanderpoel at the Art Institute of Chicago, with William Merritt Chase at the Art Students League of New York, and with Arthur Wesley Dow at Columbia University of New York. O'Keeffe taught at Columbia College (South Carolina), at University of Virginia, and at West Texas State Normal School. Her first important exhibition was in 1917 at 291 gallery, which was run by photographer Alfred Stieglitz, whom O'Keeffe would later marry. She lived and worked in New York beginning in 1918, and began spending summers in New Mexico in 1929. In 1949, O'Keeffe moved to New Mexico to live year-round.
O'Keeffe received a commission from Cheney Brothers, a silk company, but she later expressed reservations toward commercial art; in 1924, O'Keeffe wrote to her sister Catherine: "You see I tried commercial Art. … I was a failure. … And I tried doing other foolish forms of commercial Art—I could make a living at it … but it wasn't worth the price. … Always thinking for a foolish idea for a foolish place didn't appeal to me for a steady diet—so I gambled on this foolish business of painting—and here I am at it."
O'Keeffe's husband and major promoter, Alfred Stieglitz, discouraged the reproduction of her works for fear that the paintings would be compromised. Nevertheless, O'Keeffe's art has frequently been used successfully on posters, most notably for the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. Since its first year in 1973, the festival has used a reproduction of an O'Keeffe painting, with her permission, and sold the poster nationally. With the crisp lines, rich colors, and abstracted, simple shapes characteristic of her paintings, O'Keeffe's art lends itself well to use on posters.
Therese Thau Heyman Posters American Style (New York and Washington, D.C.: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., in association with the National Museum of American Art, 1998)