Symbiosis in Art.


Jimson Weed Georgia O’ Keefe 1932 (1)

definition “1.1 [COUNT NOUN] A mutually beneficial relationship between different people or groups.”(2)

My visit didn’t start this way.

I was in London to dig in the Thames. I noticed that this exhibition was on at the Tate Modern (3) and as I had some time before low tide decided to go see these beautiful paintings.

i had seen the paintings many times in books and on prints. I wasn’t ready for the vibrancy of color bouncing from the walls. It was mesmerising.


Oriental Poppy Georgia O Keefe 1927 (4)

I was surprised by the number of photographs by Steiglitz, Adams, Strand and the list goes on. I knew that Steiglitz had been O’ Keefe’s lover. After all photography books are filled with her naked form taken by Steiglitz earlier in there lives.

Seeing all these famous artists got me thinking about what was happening. In F.64  Alinder talks about Adams work towards perfection spurred on by the F64 group.(5)

Other examples of symbiosis came to mind The British Arts and Crafts movement, John Ruskin and the Pre Raphaelites, Picasso and Braque working within Cubism are all examples of artists working separately but having a symbiotic relationship in as much as they or their work drove them to higher levels.

Ruskin hinted at this collaboration of minds in his quote “He is the greatest artist who has embodied in the sum of his works, the greatest number of the greatest ideas.” John Ruskin (6).

O Keefe did her own work but her relationships with the others drove her and them to new techniques and approaches to art and life.


Saint Francis Church Ranchos des Taos Ansel Adams 1941 (7)

Ansel Adams visited O’ Keefe at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico and took a series of photos in his style but influenced by the place and Georgia. She developed by having him around. She was a loner but her genius thrived in the company of talent.

Her paintings of bones are stark but beautiful. It was great to see images of her collecting the Skulls and bones painted later.


Rams Skull with white Hollyhock O Keefe 1935 (8)

Even in our modern times I considered Lennon and McCartney who when separate are music and lyric writers. Together they bounced off each other and produced melodies that will and are standing the test of time.

These are just a few examples I am sure you can think of more?

So yes Symbiosis does exist in art. It helps artists get the most from one another. Sometimes in harmony other times in adversity but either way it makes for a beneficial development for both.

In my work I feel a natural affinity to the landscape. I have captured shots of ice that give the same impression of natures majesty and grandeur.


So now I must find people to collaborate with to develop my art.


(1). O Keefe, G. (1932). Jimson Weed. [Oil on canvas] Indianapolis: Indianapolis museum of art.

(2) Sep. 2016]. (8). Sykes, J. and Fowler, H. (1976). The Concise Oxford dictionary of current English. Oxford, Eng.: Clarendon Press

(3) Tate. (2015). Georgia O’Keeffe. [online] Available at:

(4). O’ Keefe, G. (1927). Oriental Poppies. [Oil on Canvas] Minneapolis.: The Collection of Frederick R. Weismann Museum at the University of Minesota.

(5)  Alinder, M. (n.d.). Group f.64

(6). Ruskin, J. and Barrie, D. (1843). Modern painters. New York: Knopf, p.14.

(7). Adams, A. (1941). Saint Francis Church Ranchos des Taos.. [Gelatin Silver Print.] Tucson: Collection Center for Creative Photography University of Arizona.

(8) O’ Keefe, G. (1935). Rams Skull and White Hollyhock. [Oil on canvas] New York: Brooklyn.


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