After 1923, when the critics reactions on the abstract paintings were overwhelmingly Freudian, and O’Keeffe became more and more aware that her abstractions were interpreted as manifestations of female sexuality, she turned back to motifs that could be recognized, for example paintings of fruits, leaves or flowers.
She decided to limit her experiments with abstraction and emphasized that her abstractions had objective sources. As a result, from the middle of the 1920-ies, nearly all motifs are taken from the visible world.
O’Keeffe: Fig, 1924
Paul Strand, photographer in the Stieglitz circle and a good friend of Georgia’s, may have been an inspiration. His ability to depict real objects as they were without making them abstract, still expressing deep sentiments.
Paul Strand: Wire Wheel, 1917
Strand had probably noted and discussed Kandinsky’s own adjustment of the radical concept of abstraction.
Kandinsky claimed that naturalism was going to be identical to abstraction in the “new big epoque” that had been initialized by Rousseau. Stieglitz was the first gallery, to show the works of Rousseau in America in 1910. He encouraged Georgia to make abstract paintings.
The more abstract is form, the more clear and direct is its appeal. In any composition the material side may be more or less omitted in proportion as the forms used are more or less material, and for them substituted pure abstractions, or largely dematerialised objects.
Paul Strand: Pepper, 1930
Purely abstract forms are beyond the reach of the artist at present; they are too indefinite for him. To limit himself to the purely indefinite would be to rob himself of possibilities, to exclude the human element and therefore to weaken his power of expression.