Georgia O’Keeffe’s Inspiration for Black Place?

I am a docent at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and we are currently showing 2 beautiful pieces that she did called “Black Place.” I am told that this place is in Chaco Canyon. Could you tell anything more about it or how I might find it on a hike ?

I found the following, which includes a picture of Black Place II (I haven’t seen either before).

Georgia O’Keeffe: Black Place II (59.204.1) | Object Page | Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art

“The Black Place was the name O’Keeffe gave to one of her favorite painting sites, located in the Bisti Badlands in Navajo country, about 150 miles northwest of her home in Ghost Ranch. It was a stretch of desolate gray and black hills that the artist said looked from a distance like “a mile of elephants.” Isolated far off the road and away from all civilization, O’Keeffe made several camping trips there in the 1940s, with her assistant Maria Chabot. Writing to Stieglitz in 1944, the year Black Place II was made, Chabot described in words what O’Keeffe captured in paint: “… the black hills—black and grey and silver with arroyos of white sand curving around them—pink and white strata running through them. They flow downward, one below the next. Incredible stillness!” (Maria Chabot—Georgia O’Keeffe: Correspondence 1941–1949, 2003, p. 193). Over a period of fourteen years, from 1936 to 1949, her visits to the Black Place sparked a torrent of work that was almost unparalleled in her career. Between 1944 and 1945 alone, she completed six canvases, including Black Place II, one very large pastel, and at least nine pencil sketches.”

I can’t verify the description, but I have been to Bisti-Denazin and recommend you visit the area. I think it would be very hard to pinpoint the exact spot she loved so — perhaps someone at Ghost Ranch has an idea. See for a description of Bisti-Denazin. It makes for a long daytrip from Santa Fe. You wouldn’t want to be there in June-July-August, unless very early in the day.

Here are two sites with photographs of the area — maybe you’ll see something here or perhaps the photographers have seen Black Place.

Denazin Wilderness Photo Images

I hope this helps. mjh

4 thoughts on “Georgia O’Keeffe’s Inspiration for Black Place?”

  1. Thanks for sharing this. I saw Black Place II on the Metropolitan Museum website and decided to investigate the painting. I appreciate the information you offered and the links you have included.

  2. Finally went in to The Black Place after driving past it a hundred times. The right light is extremely important to get any sense of what this really looks like. Full moon might be excellent too.
    You could say it’s near Bisti and Chaco but only in a relative sense.
    And below…Hey Mike S! How ya doing?

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