Georgia O'Keeffe (American, 18871986)
Charcoal on paper; 24 3/8 x 18 1/2 in. (61.8 x 47 cm)
Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1950 (50.236.2)
© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
In drawings like this, O'Keeffe asserted her independence from her traditional art training. Filling large sheets of paper with bold strokes of charcoal, her compositions evoke the growth and movement of nature through abstract forms. Here, the image is divided into three parallel sections. On the right, meandering lines suggest a flowing river or a rising flame. Four rounded bulbs in the center recall a rolling hillside or densely foliated trees, while the jagged line at left, accentuated by erasure marks, alludes to mountain peaks or a flash of lightning. The power of these early drawings was not lost on Alfred Stieglitz, who immediately offered to show Drawing XIII and other O'Keeffe charcoals in an exhibition at his gallery 291 in 1916.