Georgia O'Keeffe. Cottonwoods Near Abiquiu, 1950. Oil on canvas, 22 x 26 inches. Georgia O'Keeffe Museum. Gift of The Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation. © Georgia O'Keeffe Museum. [2006.5.227]
A large, softly painted cottonwood tree fills the canvas. Its thick trunk divides into several sinuous branches as the tree rises above the ground. The impression of leaves has been created by soft patches of white, gray, and green paint along the branches.
In this colorful 1930 representation of the cottonwoods found near Abiquiú, O’Keeffe embraced the vivid colors and dynamic lines of the tree. Cottonwoods are distinguishable by their tall-yet-wide stature, thick foliage, and tufts of cotton-like hairs attached to their seeds, hence the name. Here, O’Keeffe captured the tree as though in motion—swaying in the warm, New Mexican breeze. The branches mirror the meandering tributaries of the local Rio Chama, along which cottonwoods, such as this one, can be found today.
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