New Collection: The Frances O’Brien Papers Relating to Georgia O’Keeffe

The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum is pleased to announce the donation of the Frances O’Brien Papers relating to Georgia O’Keeffe, which documents the friendship between the two women artists from the mid-1940s to the early 1970s.

Frances O’Brien (1904-1990) was an accomplished portrait artist, completing portraits of well-known subjects such as Irving Berlin, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, William L. Shirer, Winston S. Churchill, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Grandma Moses. For many years, she did cover portraits for magazines, primarily The Saturday Review. O’Brien and O’Keeffe met when O’Brien came to see an exhibition of O’Keeffe’s paintings at Alfred Stieglitz’s Anderson Galleries. The two independent and hard-working professional artists became friends and later shared an apartment in New York City shortly after O’Keeffe’s husband, Alfred Stieglitz, died in 1946. Over the years they corresponded regularly and visited one another after both relocating permanently to the southwest, O’Brien in Arizona and O’Keeffe in New Mexico.

Frances O’Brien and Magazine Cover Portraits, c. 1956 Brian Garfield Frances O’Brien Papers, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Gift of Brian and Bina Garfield in honor of Frances O’Brien (2015-01-011) Copyright Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

The collection includes correspondence (primarily handwritten letters from O’Keeffe to O’Brien), oral histories conducted with O’Brien about O’Keeffe, and images of O’Brien and O’Keeffe in New Mexico and Arizona dating from the late 1940s to early 1970s. By the end of the summer, the papers will be available for research at the Research Center and the public will have online access to digital images of the photographs and letters.

The Papers of Frances O’Brien relating to Georgia O’Keeffe were generously donated to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum by Brian and Bina Garfield. Brian Garfield is the son of Frances O’Brien and visited with O’Keeffe several times during his youth.

Elizabeth Ehrnst, Archives and Digital Collections Librarian