red-canna
Red Canna (source: georgiaokeeffe.net)

November 15 is Georgia O’Keeffe’s birthday.

In 2014, a painting by Georgia O’Keeffe sold for $44.4 million USD, setting an auction record for a work by a woman. When I read something like that, my mind always travels back to Camille Paglia’s “Sexual Personae” and the author’s theories about why there has not been a lot of renowned female artists. I need to stick my head back into that book and see how it has aged.

But I digress! I wasn’t sure what to expect when I looked up Georgia O’Keeffe’s natal chart. Would she have a particularly masculine chart?

Well, she doesn’t. In fact, she’s got a Scorpio sun, moon and Mercury in the first house with Scorpio rising. Jupiter in Scorpio is also nearly conjunct her ascendant from the twelfth house. Mars, Scorpio’s ruling planet, is in Virgo, not far from her midheaven in the tenth house.

What I get from that planetary layout is the image of a woman who seeks to understand her craft on the most fundamental level. Scorpio is associated with the inevitabilities of life, and especially sex, death and birth. O’Keeffe’s paintings of flowers (the reproductive organs of plants) and skulls make sense. The artist herself downplayed the sexuality in her work, but it is impossible to separate the psyche of the artist from the art she created. Whatever was going on in her head was translated into these images, and these images paint a portrait of a woman who contemplated the inevitabilities of life.

Jupiter conjunct the ascendant from the twelfth can account for her vivid imagination and the desire to express herself in an artistic fashion. It can also account for her occasional bouts of depression and her inability to articulate the concepts behind her work, other than to say that she didn’t “think” about what she was creating. Instead, she painted from a deeper place, claiming “I have things in my head that are not like what anyone has taught me — shadows and ideas so near to me — so natural to my way of being and thinking that it hasn’t occurred to me to put them down.”

She not only possessed the chart of an artist, but also the chart of an abstract expressionist.  Again, it’s not what I expected to see, but now that it’s in front of me, I get it.

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