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Cow's Skull with Calico Roses

Painting of a bone-white cow's skull directly centered in a vertical canvas, adorned with gray-white roses. The background behind the skull is similarly pale and appears to depict stone, a deep black gap between sheets of stone bisecting the painting from top to bottom.
© The Art Institute of Chicago

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  • Painting of a bone-white cow's skull directly centered in a vertical canvas, adorned with gray-white roses. The background behind the skull is similarly pale and appears to depict stone, a deep black gap between sheets of stone bisecting the painting from top to bottom.

Date:

1931

Artist:

Georgia O’Keeffe
American, 1887–1986

About this artwork

Georgia O’Keeffe collected this cow’s skull in New Mexico during the summer of 1930, when a drought had devasted the Southwest, and many animal skeletons could be found in the desert. She was captivated by the stark elegance of the bones and shipped some back to New York so she could paint them the following year. She noted, “To me they are as beautiful as anything I know… . The bones seem to cut sharply to the center of something that is keenly alive on the desert.” O’Keeffe’s inclusion of the calico fabric roses—which were used to decorate graves in New Mexico—further evokes questions of life, death, and mortality.

Status

On View, Gallery 265

Department

Arts of the Americas

Artist

Georgia O'Keeffe

Title

Cow's Skull with Calico Roses

Place

United States (Object made in)

Date

Made 1931

Medium

Oil on canvas

Dimensions

91.4 × 61 cm (36 × 24 in.)

Credit Line

Alfred Stieglitz Collection, gift of Georgia O'Keeffe

Reference Number

1947.712

Copyright

© The Art Institute of Chicago

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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