White Rose With Larkspur No 2 – Georgia O’Keeffe

White Rose With Larkspur No 2 – Georgia O’Keeffe

When we think of Georgia O’Keeffe, paintings like White Rose with Larkspur No 2 pop to mind. They rouse realistic flora with a fantasy feel. O’Keeffe zooms in tight. So, it’s like the flower took a selfie. Many focus on the feminine aspect of this. After all, these flowers seem vulnerable, pure, and enticing. It’s a combination that feels female.


Click below for the podcast version of this post.



There’s innocence in these images even as they draw us into their most private parts. Before O’Keeffe few artists portrayed floral depth with such detail. It’s why so many speak of the sensuality of O’Keeffe’s work. But that’s only a tiny part of the wonder in her paintings. Let’s not narrow our lens to a mere sliver of the unknown worlds she’s created. In many ways these are more landscape than portrait.

This American woman artist painted a universe of sense memory with each flower. Viewers can feel the soft brush of White Rose with Larkspur No 2 against their cheek. It just takes a glance. But who can stop there? This painting stimulates every sense. White roses have a delicate, sweet smell unlike any other flower. They’re so popular that most of us hold a memory of that scent.

Leave it to the most noteworthy flower painter to show us parts of our old friend, the rose, never noticed before. It’s the way she spotlights a flower’s intimate centers that makes her work so memorable. We get to know each flower as an individual, even as her paintings also feel like gazing into an entire universe.


White Rose With Larkspur No 2 - Georgia O'Keeffe - 1927
Georgia O’Keeffe – White Rose with Larkspur No 2

Georgia O’Keeffe Magnifies Nature


Georgia O’Keeffe holds a placid presence in photos and interviews. She appears unflappable. But nothing annoyed her more than sexual references to her work. This reaction’s understandable. O’Keeffe was a master of capturing fragility so clear and true. She portrayed depth and meaning in gossamer works like White Rose with Larkspur No 2. These portraits thus unearth the inherent strength in vulnerability. Of course it upset her. She gives us a new set of eyes to gaze upon familiar flowers and all we can say is, “Looks sexy”.


There’s magic in O’Keeffe’s flowers that transcends physical details. It’s how they transport us. Sure, these paintings spotlight the sexual organs of flowers. But that’s only a footnote to the story told with each floral portrait. She transforms feathery light creatures into monsters with magnification. It’s how O’Keeffe turned a real flower into a mystical fantasy with paint strokes. Each flora became nature’s behemoth thanks to her artistry. All she had to do was articulate what she saw up close. O’Keeffe magnified reality so that we could see the magic inside.


Her unique way of looking makes these portraits feel like a journey into a new world. White Rose with Larkspur No 2 sets a primo example. After all, we’ve noticed flowers like this before. Those sexual organs sitting in their center have always been easy to see, in fact. We just didn’t magnify them like she did. It was a simple and effective move for O’Keeffe. She thus made the real into the mythic. That’s what makes her an artistic legend.

Her work isn’t only instantly recognizable and distinct. Georgia O’Keeffe broke new ground in the art world and beyond. She didn’t just paint flowers. O’Keeffe created a fresh way of seeing our surroundings. Most incredible of all, she built this new universe out of petals and parts we’ve all seen before. But we’d never really looked at them with proper regard.



White Rose with Larkspur No 2 – FAQs



Where can I see White Rose with Larkspur No 2 in person?

The Museum of Fine Arts Boston had always wanted a classic Georgia O’Keeffe flower painting. But they couldn’t find one for their collection. So, a museum representative visited Ms. O’Keeffe at her New Mexico home. The 92 year old artist listened, then departed to her bedroom. She brought back the glorious White Rose with Larkspur No 2 as a gift. It’s hard to imagine who felt better in the moment of that exchange. But if you could choose which part to play, wouldn’t you pick O’Keeffe?


What makes Georgia O’Keeffe’s White Rose with Larkspur No 2 so special?

1927, the year she created White Rose with Larkspur No. 2 was a productive year for O’Keeffe. She magnified many flowers, including poppies, petunias, and calla lilies that year. Later on O’Keeffe stated that she’d painted some of her best work in 1927. It was the year she produced five white roses on canvas. This one is special, though. Only two of her white rose works included larkspur. White Rose with Larkspur No 2‘s the most subtle in abstraction. It invites us to look deeper into her rose world.


What kind of painter was Georgia O’Keeffe? Why is she important?

O’Keeffe was a pioneer in American Modernism. She will always be remembered as a remarkable 20th-century painter. Seeing her work means never looking at a flower the same way again. Georgia O’Keeffe’s known for her skulls, skyscrapers, and southwestern landscapes as well as flowers. Presented the Medal of Freedom in 1977, she’s an artistic legend. That’s why in 1985, O’Keeffe also received the National Medal of Arts. 



When and where did Georgia O’Keeffe die?

O’Keeffe died in 1986, as she lived, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. At almost 100 years old, she left behind an enduring legacy of beauty and strength in her life’s example and work. Luckily, you can visit the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe to see for yourself. The museum offers tours of her home, now a national historic landmark. It includes a compelling collection of her work and personal belongings.