Grey Hills by Georgia O'Keeffe

In this painting O’Keeffe magnifies the motif, turning the rolling hills of New Mexico’s Bisti Badlands into powerful mountains.

While the title Grey Hills suggests a limited palette, the artist employs a broad range of colors to depict the eroded landscape.

O’Keeffe visited this remote region in November 1941. In a letter to her patron, Mrs. Fesler, O’Keeffe wrote: “It is a desolate place—no water—no trees—no grass—only a little sage. Being one of my favorite places I liked spending the last days there before coming East.”

Grey Hills was painted during a November trip to a desolate region of New Mexico. The eroded hills and scattered clumps of dry, yellowed sage present a remarkably barren scene, giving the painting a stark, elemental beauty. The softly rounded topography and colored bands of soil form a graceful composition that gradually leads the eye up the massive slope to the top of the canvas. Like the magnified views of O’Keeffe’s flower and bone paintings, the hills of her New Mexico landscapes crowd the frame.
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