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Cebolla Church (work of art)

Artwork Info

20 1/16 x 36 1/4 inches (51 x 92.1 centimeters)


Gift of the North Carolina State Art Society (Robert F. Phifer Bequest), in honor of Joseph C. Sloane.
Reproduction, including downloading of Georgia O'Keeffe works is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Object Number

Key Ideas

  • This painting depicts an adobe church in Cebolla, New Mexico. 
  • Adobe is a traditional building material in the American Southwest. It is made from sun-dried earth. It  naturally keeps buildings cool in the summer and warm in the winter. 
  • Georgia O’Keeffe was an American modernist painter who became famous during her lifetime. She is best known for her large, close-up paintings of flowers. 
  • In 1929 O’Keeffe began spending her summers in New Mexico. She passed by this church often and was inspired to paint it. 

Learn More

Georgia O’Keeffe saw this church during her frequent travels to New Mexico. She wrote about the poverty in the area, describing the simple church as “so typical of the difficult life of the people.” Her painting of the Church of Santo Niño in the town of Cebolla emphasizes the abstract qualities of the region’s adobe architecture with its simplified, flat planes and sun-bleached color palette. 

Adobe was used by the Pueblo Indians long before colonization. Adobe bricks are made by hand from a sun-dried mixture of dirt, water, and straw. This organic building material helps maintain comfortable indoor temperatures in the desert’s extreme weather conditions. The adobe church depicted in this painting was literally formed out of the earth. It is a structure that blurs the boundary between natural and human-made.

O’Keeffe was a successful modernist painter. She trained in realism and still life. She defined her own style, however, while she was studying under the painter Arthur Wesley Dow. Her most famous works are her large-scale paintings of flowers, bones, and desert landscapes. O’Keeffe first visited New Mexico in 1929 and began spending her summers there. She said she was fascinated by the landscape and the Native American and Hispanic cultures. She moved to New Mexico permanently in 1949.

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  • A horizontal oil painting of a tan church building with a gray roof. There is a small cross on the left side of the roof, and a light blue sky with white clouds above the church.

    Cebolla Church