Ida O’Keeffe, Georgia’s Little Sister, Finally Has Her Moment

We all know Georgia O’Keeffe — master watercolorist, flower enthusiast, incredible icon for female artists everywhere — but until recently, few of us were aware of the other O’Keeffe. That’s right, folks: in the grand tradition established by the Boleyn and Knowles’ dynasties, a second sister has been lurking in the shadow of a talented Big for many years. In this case, Ida, Georgia’s little sister, was an accomplished painter in her own right — though her sister’s fame often eclipsed her skill.

At long last (and some forty plus years after her death), Ida’s works have been compiled into an exhibit set to run at the Dallas Museum of Art in Texas. Aptly called, “Escaping Georgia’s Shadow,” the installation aims to “bring to light the best of the known works by Ida O’Keeffe, in order to consider their merits as well as their place within the aesthetics of American modernism during the 1920s and 30s.”

It’s an exciting, if overdue, triumph for baby sisters everywhere. And Ida was a pretty cool lady, discounting any comparisons to her Big. After working as a gynecological nurse in her early years, Ida took an interest in painting — thanks to the example set by both her grandmothers and, of course, her sister. She went on to complete her MFA at Columbia University in 1932, and devoted more and more time to her painterly studies. Her most famous series, seen above, depicts a series of a lighthouses. She primarily worked in oil and watercolor.

During World War II, Ida left painting to put her analytical mind to use, working in an airplane factory. Around this time, Georgia’s ascent to fame started in earnest, and the trail of Ida’s painting career grew cold. There’s not much evidence that Georgia and Ida had a competitive relationship, but rumor has it that Georgia’s husband and dealer, Alfred Stieglitz, held a bit of a candle for the other O’Keeffe. Scandalous…

(Images via The New York Times and the DMA)