Arts & Culture

The Other O’Keeffe

What led Georgia O’Keeffe to demand that her also-talented younger sister Ida not exhibit her work? Was it artistic jealousy? A love triangle gone awry? Plain old sibling rivalry? After four and a half years of research on the lesser-known O’Keeffe—and her oil paintings, watercolors, and drawings—Sue Canterbury, a curator at the Dallas Museum of Art, thinks it could have been a bit of all of the above.

Canterbury has uncovered more than forty works for Ida O’Keeffe: Escaping Georgia’s Shadow (through February 24) that prove Ida was an exceptional artist in her own right. “The sisters were generally close growing up,” Canterbury says. But as Georgia became famous for her large-scale floral paintings, Ida also started to slowly make her way in the Depression-era art industry with teaching gigs. Georgia wasn’t having it. That could have had something to do with the infatuation that Georgia’s husband, the photographer Alfred Stieglitz, had for his wife’s sister. “In the fall of 1924, Ida stayed with them on Lake George in New York, and he was highly flirtatious with her,” Canterbury says. (There’s no evidence that Ida acted on Stieglitz’s advances.)

Although Ida never gained international prominence for her art, her pieces are part of private collections across the country. She completed one of the most evocative paintings included in this exhibition in 1938, while teaching in San Antonio. Titled Star Gazing in Texas, it features a frame covered in silver stars, and at the center, bathed in moonlight, a woman soaking up the shine on her own.

See the painting and preview a selection of other images from the exhibit here.

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