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Close-up crop of a timeline showing works by O'Keeffe made in 1944.

Insight

Georgia O'Keeffe

Interactive Timeline Offers New View of O’Keeffe’s Career

December 18, 2023

An innovative tool on the Museum’s website gives researchers, students, and O’Keeffe enthusiasts insight into the lifetime production of one of the world’s most prolific artists.

Georgia O’Keeffe created more than 2,000 pieces of artwork in her lifetime. The oil paintings, sketches, watercolors, pastels, photographs, sculptures, and ceramic pieces have been organized hundreds of ways for exhibitions, storage, research, and more. Now, thanks to funding from the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Foundation, every piece of artwork created by O’Keeffe can be seen in a new interactive, digital visualization on the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum website.

Liz Neely, the Museum’s Curator of Digital Experience, spearheaded the innovative effort which allows for a full view of the breadth of O’Keeffe’s prolific career. On the leading edge of bringing 21st-century research practices to the field of art history, the tool is especially impactful at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum—one of the few female single-artist museums in the world.

Timeline in a bar-graph form of Georgia O'Keeffe's Artistic Career
Visualization of Georgia O’Keeffe’s Artistic Career

“As a professional artist for more than 60 years, Georgia O’Keeffe produced thousands of works—from minimalist sketches to garage-size oil paintings. The methods we’ve previously used to catalog these works were inaccessible to many audiences and, because they relied so heavily on printed material, were difficult to update,” Neely said. “This tool not only provides accurate information to researchers in academia, it’s also a new way for the public to engage with the art and life of O’Keeffe.”

The tool is an entirely new type of artwork exploration based on months of audience research and numerous prototypes. Every piece of art O’Keeffe created throughout her lifetime is delineated into a timeline that filters by medium and links to a more detailed listing of the object in the Museum’s Collection Online which includes creation dates, provenance, exhibition showings, the ability to zoom in for detailed views of each piece. As a digital tool, the information can also be updated in real-time as works around the world are bought, sold, and exhibited.

The project, Neely hopes, is a step toward reimagining O’Keeffe’s catalogue raisonné, a comprehensive listing of O’Keeffe’s artwork that was published in 1999 by former Museum curator, Barbara Buhler Lynes. An enormous two-volume publication of more than 2,000 pages, the O’Keeffe catalogue raisonné is only available in print, making it cost-prohibitive to many and nearly impossible to keep updated. 

“The goal is to combine this tool with Barbara Buhler Lynes’ work and continued efforts of the Museum, to create what would be the first completely digital catalogue raisonné,” Neely said. 

Neely credits many at the Museum for their contributions to the project including years of data entry from interns and hours of information work by Debbie Orona and the Museum’s Data Management Working Group which includes Judy Smith, Sherri Sorensen, Liz O’Brien, Liz Ehrnst, and Ariel Russell. Design for Context served as technical partners on the project with Kate Haley Goldman as the user researcher. Explore for yourself, the tool can be found at this link.