WANDACORN: I’ve always thought that when O’Keeffe painted this work she was kind of having a tongue-in-cheek experience, because she had been known for her flower paintings in New York, which were always based on natural flowers.
NARRATOR: This flower was artificial. It was probably made out of calico by some of the Latina or Native American women who lived in O’Keeffe’s adopted home of New Mexico. As she’s painted it here, this fake flower seems as intensely real as anything that could be found in nature.
Art historian Wanda Corn.
WANDACORN: If you look closely you’ll see that no two petals are exactly alike. Each one bends or swerves or moves in and out of another set of petals in its own particularly unique way.
It’s not only the flower that’s special but also the way she uses white. These are whites which are sometimes tinted with pink, or with tan, or with gray. You’ll again notice she never uses the same exact whiteness or the same tone of white for every petal.
She’s absolutely fascinated with the structure of this flower. Probably also fascinated because it’s an artificial flower! And somebody has done a beautiful job of making a calico flower as complicated and glorious as a natural one.