Cow’s Skull with Calico Roses

The following sample essay on “Cow’s Skull with Calico Roses”: describing two piece of art from era before World War 2 O’ Keeffe’s “Cow’s Skull with Calico Roses” and Cunningham’s photo of the “Two Callas”.

Formal Description/Analysis

During the era before World War 2, there was a lot of aspirations of modern art. Artists focusing on naturalism, depths of define details, and nature’s hidden beauty. Georgia O’ Keeffe and Imogen Cunningham have had the ability to demonstrate these features through their artwork in such ways in painting and photography.

Their artwork has brought many to attention in their time because it carried a meaning through nature’s being. Not only that, they also have gain experiences with other artists in their time of living. One of O’Keeffe’s art pieces that captured my attention was the “Cow’s Skull with Calico Roses” and also Cunningham’s photo of the “Two Callas”. These two artworks correlate in few ways through the floral imagery and the definitions of white colors it has.

The artists relate in some aspect but contrast with each other since their focus on their art pieces are different through content and any other influences of the organic dynamic naturism they express.

O’Keeffe’s painting is very organic and appealing to my eyes. Personally I absolutely love cow skulls and flowers. They bring out true depths of beauty in nature and a sense of rebirth from the way it is painted. I see all different shades of white and I enjoy the pleasantness it brings to my mind.

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I like how the flowers are transparent in some places around the petals while in other places they are solid colored. It is rich in perspective of nature’s hidden beauty and along with the authenticity of life figurines which correlate in the real world. The minimum outlined details bring out the objects but the depths of shadowing help me see the lighting display onto them.

I think O’Keeffe provides a great balance of shades and lighting that she knew how to tie in the details of outlining the cow skull and flowers. Cows are beautiful animals, they grow up and when their time comes they still are seen magnificent because their skulls seem sacred to nature. A skeleton left behind is always a reminder to me that once life has come to a closing chapter it continues to roam after in spirit. As for flowers they will always be a form of rebirth to myself, a way of expressing a blooming life, and that nature has a lot more to offer rather than stand still. The way I see it is that the dead can speak still, in spirit and in grace. These are the ways that O’Keeffe’s painting spoke to me because I can feel and give a sense of smell of freshness, especially when it is raining outside and the aftermath of smelling the earthy organic roots. I enjoy looking at this painting with pleasure, its beautiful. The styles are much like modernism since it provides nature’s beauty from living things to deceased.

Cunningham’s photography is exquisite and uniquely beautiful. Looking at it is very eye catching and put into perspective of still life. Black and white photos are authentic and original from my perspective. It brings many wondrous thoughts to my mind to see how photography has evolved in time and it continues to look magnificent. No matter how much detail there is, there is always enough. When I see such imagery in black and white, I choose to set in other colors depending what the photo mood it gives off to myself. Her photo of “Two Callas” appeals to my eyes because I love flowers especially lilies. Not only that but through this photo I see it carrying more meaning behind it.

For instance, like a hidden secret or an understanding of what life has to offer there is a silver lining that artists like to demonstrate in their art. I think Cunningham has that effect by the focus on the two flowers rather than looking at a bigger picture. The two callas are very soft fragile looking and sacred to my own viewpoint. Flowers are soft and can be easily be damaged rather they aren’t grown to live forever. The focal point is well centered and the background being darken gives the imagery a nice effect of a personal romantic setting. Also it gives me a thought of that no matter what in life I should not forget the small things in life, rather than looking at the bigger picture. In other words looking and learning to love the small things in life and knowing that it goes in depth with the impacts or effects it can bring to life. His work ties into modernism because through the era before world war 2 I think what mattered to the people at the time was to be able to bring out life more into perspective of the naturalism and hidden beauty it has to offer amongst the living.

O’keeffe’s art work focuses boldly on dramatic illuminating landscapes or cities, and distinctive flowers. Basically her work revolved with focusing on the environment she lives in and how to put it into expression through art so others may see. Even the most iconic images of beautiful bones being once living that used to roam the earth is what her work focuses on as well. She wrote about what appealed to her eyes and the beautiful living things that leave behind after they are gone. She finds strange things to be beautiful and unique in its own way and I can say I relate to her. Emphasizing more on the dead because they still live amongst the living and purely amplify a deeper meaning towards nature’s hidden beauty and the modernism style of time.

As for Cunningham’s still life photography, she captures floral and intimate personal portraits. She brings out as much details by focusing the close range beauties that she sees. From fine lines of a person’s anatomy to floral images. From what I have seen her artwork shares a variety of focuses of simplicity and rawness like naturism to portraits. Cunningham has always had an eye for photography and she wanted to try her best to bring out the best qualities so others may see the hidden beauties of nature. It is fascinating how some people do not have the tendency to overlook the hidden features, and it takes them to have to see the values through inspirational art pieces like Cunningham’s.

Through the time before world war 2, Cunningham and O’Keeffe shared similarities by focusing on their art on portraits, naturism, landscapes, and along with a variety of close ups. Cunningham focusing on photography aspects while O’Keeffe revolved with painting. Nature has a lot to offer and I enjoy every aspect of it. O’Keeffe’s painting “Cow’s Skull with Calico Roses” is very beautiful and outstanding to speculate. It takes me to a place that feels like a moment in time that there is a pause but everything is peaceful. As for Cunningham’s photo of the “Two Callas” it feels so real and present. I feel that with his photo I can smell the fresh Callas and the beauty of which nature gives. These two artists have brought out nature’s hidden beauty through the artistic perspectives of painting and photography. I admire that such beauty continues to unfold especially throughout in time since before and after of World War 2.

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Cow’s Skull with Calico Roses. (2019, Nov 20). Retrieved from

Cow’s Skull with Calico Roses
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