Born to a large family in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, Ida O'Keeffe was raised in an artistic atmosphere as two of her sisters and both her grandmothers were artists. During World War I, O'Keeffe chose to study nursing. In 1921 she received her degree and served as a gynecological nurse at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

Dissatisfied with her chosen profession and eager to pursue her artistic studies, O'Keeffe enrolled at Columbia University Teacher's College and received an MFA from there in 1932. She exhibited with her sister Catherine and their grandmothers in 1933 at New York's Opportunity Gallery. In 1937 the Delphic Studios in New York gave O'Keeffe a one person exhibition. That same year she participated in group exhibitions at the National Association of Woman Painters, winning an award for her work.

Named after her mother, Ida O'Keeffe was recognized as artistically gifted by her family and as a girl was encouraged to pursue her art. Unfortunately her artistic efforts were overshadowed by those of her famous older sister, Georgia O'Keeffe, and to this day Ida O'Keeffe remains little known as an artist and is rarely exhibited. She worked in both oil and watercolor and experimented with printmaking. She explored several print mediums but specialized in monotypes which she developed with an electric iron in her New York apartment.

During her lifetime Ida O'Keeffe had sporadic interaction with her older sister, Georgia. Early on Georgia's husband and dealer, Alfred Stieglitz, found Ida a welcome addition to their household and encouraged her visits. Correspondence between the three indicate that Stieglitz was attracted to Ida and flirted with her as he did with other women who frequented their home. Reportedly Stieglitz was fascinated with his wife's younger sibling because she resembled Georgia but was still very different from her. Ida was better humored and enjoyed some domestic tasks. She was a great outdoors woman and could shoot a squirrel as well as she arranged wildflowers. Apparently Georgia was not threatened by her husband's flirtations with her sister and more often than not when the three spent time together it was harmoniously. That harmony was disrupted for some years when writer Paul Rosenfeld came for a visit and diverted Ida's attentions, infuriating Stieglitz. The attraction was serious and the following summer, in an attempt to discourage the couple, Stieglitz refused to extend the annual invitation to Ida.

As Georgia O'Keeffe's fame grew, Ida's artistic career shrank and she was unable to sell her paintings or find work that sustained her. During WWII she worked briefly in an airplane factory, but by 1950 Ida was dependent on Georgia and two other sisters, Anita and Claudia, for support. Benita Eisler reports in her book on O'Keeffe and Stieglitz that the once ebullient, capable young woman fell apart.

In 1961 Ida O'Keeffe died of a stroke at age 7l. Posthumously she was the subject of an exhibition in 1974 in Santa Fe and recently her works have begun to appear on the marketplace.

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Ida Ten Eyck O’Keeffe (1889 - 1961)   United States

IDA TEN EYCK O’KEEFFE

Untitled (Lighthouse with Sailboat)

c. 1946, oil on canvas, 20” x 16”

IDA TEN EYCK O’KEEFFE

Untitled (Lighthouse)

c. 1946, oil on canvas, 20” x 17”