Georgia O’Keeffe

GeorgiaWhere I was born and where and how I have lived is unimportant. It is what I have done with where I have been that should be of interest.” 

Georgia O’Keeffe

Those of you who follow OTR Book Club know that I have just completed reading Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O’Keeffe by Laurie Lisle.  Georgia O’Keeffe is considered to be one of America’s most original and brilliant painters. Born in 1887, she lived to the grand age of 98 and left a legacy that continues to inspire new generations of artists.

I do not consider myself an artist, but I am grateful to those who share their creative genius with the world at large.  I chose this biography for several reasons, the primary being to gain a greater understanding of how an artist thinks, feels, and acts as they follow their artistic journey.  I was curious about how a woman, who lived  at the turn of the 20th century, was defined within a circle that was dominated by a male perspective.  Simone de Beauvior once said, “One is not born a genius, one becomes a genius; and the feminine situation has up to the present rendered this becoming practically impossible.”   While most women of her age were focused on the everyday tasks of home and child-rearing, Georgia O’Keeffe chose her art above all.   And then there is  the matter of time.  Does creative energy wane or does it ignite with the passage of years?  Are there periods of doubt, insight, transformation, and renewal?

I have finished the biography, yet I want to review my notes and thoughts in future posts.  Georgia O’Keeffe’s commitment to her vision, her art and her life has given me a new perspective on art and courage.

“To create one’s world in any of the arts takes courage.” 
 Georgia O’Keeffe


20 Replies to “Georgia O’Keeffe”

  1. Hello, I did see the exhibition at de Young today. We watched the video on her life and work. Your quote is also quoted in the video: it takes a lot of courage to be an artist, everyday I feel like walking along the edge…I like that , which is very true.
    Like what you also said , Stieglitz is amazing in terms of discovering and supporting talents. In fact his 4 portraits of his wife shown in this exhibition, have stolen the glory. I like them very much. I think he is no less talented than her, but more people know or like O’ Keeffe, worldwide, because he promoted her so well! I do like her paintings as she grows older. I still cannot forget her big Clouds picture hanging at the Chicago Art Institute. Indeed she is very special. The Americans should be very proud of her…the only American Woman Artist that has a museum of her own!

    1. What a wonderful experience! Thank you so much for sharing – I felt like I was there with you. I agree – Georgia O’Keeffe was very special. I’m thinking of purchasing “My Faraway One: Selected Letters of Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz. 🙂

      1. Your posts have inspired me to learn more about these two talented artists. i also love to read biography and letters like these, but too busy to read at this time. Let us know your impression after reading this book.

      2. I know exactly how you feel about having time to read! There are so many wonderful lives to read about, and yet our time is limited. If we only had 3 more hours in a day, how many more books we could read…

    1. You would love the book! What is amazing to me is that we can read a book in a few hours or a couple of days, and yet the content spans a lifetime.

  2. We have a couple of her prints framed – love ’em! When we were in Santa Fe, we couldn’t wait to get into her museum there, but what a disappointment. Not sure why, but it was completely . . . er . . . forgettable! I don’t know if the displays were being changed out or what, but it really lacked zing.

      1. We were there in 2003, prepared to love it, but were disappointed. Not sure how closely others chose to follow her wishes regarding display.

      2. Georgia O’Keeffe, from what I’ve read, was more interested in her art than about how people would receive her art in the way she wanted to display her work, which was usually against a white wall. She was not the easiest person to know, much less understand. You have given me something to look into! Thank you so much for adding to the dialogue.

        “I wish people were all trees and I think I could enjoy them then.” Georgia O’Keeffe

      3. It’s almost as if I have blocked the experience out of my mind. My husband is a very serious amateur photographer, and an aficionado of photography in the 20′ and 30’s, thus Stieglitz. Another reason to be interested in all things O’Keeffe. So the let down was massive for us, after such a big build up in our minds. I’m likely blowing it all out of proportion because of our unrealistic expectations.

      4. Sometimes are expectations are unrealistic, however the disappointment is real. Alfred Stieglitz was quite amazing. I found that he was able to identify the talents in others, encouraging them to pursue their artistic “dream.” Your comments speak to a couple of thoughts that drifted through my mind as I read the biography. I went on the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum website. I wonder what Georgia would think….

  3. I love O’Keeffe’s work, it is absolutely brilliant. Great that you gave her a mention.

    1. I enjoyed the biography – especially how Georgia allowed the decades to unfold with new ideas, locations, direction etc. It reminded me that our lives are a kaleidoscope of dazzling colours… 🙂

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