Expulsion from the Garden of Eden
Thomas Cole
Title: Black Iris
Date Created: 1926
Dimensions: 91.4 cm × 75.9 cm (36 in × 29 7/8 in)
Type: Paintings
Medium: oil on canvas
Location: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
Black Iris, sometimes called Black Iris III, is a 1926 oil painting of by Georgia O'Keeffe. Art historian Linda Nochlin interpreted Black Iris as a morphological metaphor for female genitalia. O'Keeffe rejected such interpretations by writing: "Well—I made you take time to look at what I saw and when you took time to really notice my flower you hung all your own associations with flowers on my flower and you write about my flower as if I think and see what you think and see of the flower—and I don't." She attempted to do away with sexualized readings of her work by adding a lot of detail. O'Keeffe uses a variety of colors in order to create Black Iris, although her focus is on darker shades. She implements black, purple, and maroon to detail the center and lower petals of the iris, while using pink, gray, and white when detailing the upper petals of the flower. O'Keeffe blends outwardly in order to soften the outer edges of the painting. With the use of white and other bright colors, she is able to bring light into the image, despite the lack of a light source. O'Keeffe was intent on light and its importance in presenting the organic beauty of her subjects. Her art demonstrates her belief in the inner vitalism of nature and her association of this force with light.
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