Georgia O'Keeffe

Summer Days
1936

On view
Floor 7

Date
1936

Classification
Paintings

Medium
Oil on canvas

Dimensions
Overall: 36 1/8 × 30 1/8in. (91.8 × 76.5 cm)

Accession number
94.171

Credit line
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Calvin Klein

Rights and reproductions
© Georgia O'Keeffe Museum / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

In Summer Days, Georgia 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 animal skull and vibrant flowers were symbols of the cycles of life and death that shape the natural world. This composition belongs to a group of paintings in which the artist depicted the sun-bleached bones she brought back east from her summer sojourns in New Mexico. The deer, horse, mule, and steer skulls she collected, as one would gather wildflowers, became potent souvenirs of a landscape that had deeply inspired her. As she explained, “The bones cut sharply to the center of something that is keenly alive in the desert.” 






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