Beginning in 1929, Georgia O’Keeffe spent almost every summer in New Mexico, and in the late 1940s she made it her permanent home. Her abstract paintings from these years show her fascination with the wide-open spaces of the Southwest.
In Summer Days, O’Keeffe suspended an animal skull and several Southwestern flowers above a barren desert landscape. The large scale of the bones and blossoms and their placement in the sky give the painting a surreal quality. For O’Keeffe, the skull and flowers were symbols of the cycles of life and death that rule the natural world.
O’Keeffe’s Fascination with Bones
“The bones seem to cut sharply to the center of something that is keenly alive on the desert even tho’ it is vast and empty and untouchable—and knows no kindness with all its beauty.”