In the summer of 1929, Georgia O’Keeffe made the first of many trips to New Mexico. As she explored the unfamiliar environment, she experimented with fresh colors, forms, and compositional strategies. Her exploration coincided with an expanding regionalist perspective among many American Modernists, who were seeking a larger view of the American scene beyond New York City.
During the 1930s and 40s she continued to spend part of most years living and working in the high desert landscape that inspired a new chapter in her professional life. Over time, her New Mexico paintings became as well known as the work she had completed earlier in New York. In 1949, three years after the death of her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, she made New Mexico her permanent home. Her dramatic desert landscapes have become enduring icons of American Modernism; less well known is her persistent interest in the changing colors of cottonwood trees along the Chama River Valley visible from her studio in Abiquiú.