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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Ida and Georgia O’Keeffe, 1924.
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Alfred Stieglitz Collection

Ida Ten Eyck O’Keeffe, Pacific Coast, 1937.
Collection of Kelly Kissell

photo: Dallas Museum of Art

Ida Ten Eyck O’Keeffe, The Fish, 1935.
Collection of Allison Kramer

photo: Dallas Museum of Art

Alfred Stieglitz, Ida O’Keeffe (at Lake George with Arms Up), 1924.
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, Gift of The Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation, 2006

photo: Dallas Museum of Art

Ida Ten Eyck O’Keeffe, Star Gazing in Texas, 1938.

photo: Dallas Museum of Art

Ida Ten Eyck O’Keeffe, Creation.
Courtesy of Gerald Peters Gallery

photo: Dallas Museum of Art

Ida Ten Eyck O’Keeffe, Toadstool, c. 1932.

photo: Dallas Museum of Art

Ida Ten Eyck O’Keeffe, Peach-Blown Vase, 1927.
Courtesy of Peters Family Art Foundation

photo: Dallas Museum of Art

Ida Ten Eyck O’Keeffe, Royal Oak of Tennessee, 1932.

photo: Dallas Museum of Art

Ida Ten Eyck O’Keeffe, Tulips, 1936.
Collection of Mark and Debra Leslie

photo: Dallas Museum of Art

Ida Ten Eyck O’Keeffe, Variation on a Lighthouse Theme III, before 1933.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Museum purchase with funds donated by Patricia and Robert Lawrence

photo: Dallas Museum of Art

Ida Ten Eyck O’Keeffe, Whirl of Life, 1936.
Private Collection of Paul & Sherlea Taylor, Roswell, New Mexico

photo: Dallas Museum of Art