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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 about this Work of Art

  • This painting depicts an adobe church in Cebolla, New Mexico. Georgia O’Keeffe often passed by this church during her travels to New Mexico and was inspired to paint it. She wrote about the poverty in the area, describing the simple church as “so typical of the difficult life of the people.”
  • 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. 
  • O’Keeffe was a successful modernist painter who became famous during her lifetime. She trained in realism and still life. She defined her own style, however, while she was studying under the painter Arthur Wesley Dow. O’Keeffe is best known for her colorful, close-up paintings of flowers.
  • The artist began spending her summers in New Mexico in 1929. O’Keeffe said she was inspired by the landscape and the Native American and Hispanic culture. She moved there permanently in 1949.

Learn More

O’Keeffe first visited New Mexico in 1929. Fascinated by the landscape, spirituality, and architecture of the region, she moved there soon after. O’Keeffe’s 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 palette.

Adobe was used by the Pueblo Indians long before colonization. Made from organic materials, it is extremely efficient at maintaining interior temperatures in desert conditions. Literally formed out of the soil, the adobe church seems to erase the boundary between earth and architecture, the natural and the human-made.

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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