Exploring the Work of 10 Mostly Misunderstood Artists

Today would have been Georgia O’Keeffe’s 124th birthday. As one of the first women to break into the male dominated scene, her contributions to 20th century art history are unquestionable. She mesmerized with her gorgeously surreal New Mexico landscapes and stark New York cityscapes, but, somehow, her name has become synonymous with vaginal flowers. This they were not. How unfortunate. To celebrate the misunderstood artist and her woes, we’ve rounded up a few incidents of misinterpretation from the lives of famed big shots, elder greats, and new, spunky contemporaries. Find out what Georgia O’Keeffe’s flowers truly mean, why Francis Bacon really thrust a syringe into his subject’s arm, and why people who don’t get James Franco are “morons.”

Georgia O’Keeffe

Georgia O’Keeffe consistently battled against the Freudian interpretations of her flower series. Alike to macro-photography, these paintings glanced deep into the exquisite crevices of orchids and calla lilies, dove inside along the sensuously open petals… wait, stop, sorry, sorry! Flowers. They are just flowers. With Judy Chicago, the feminist art movement of the 1970s attempted to commandeer O’Keeffe for her “feminine iconography,” but she refused to collaborate with them on any projects. Biologically, the centers of flowers are androgynous, not feminine, alright? These flowers were not painted in praise of labia, conversely, these ravenous views are tributes to the sensual forces and ecstasy of nature itself. You perverts.