Category: blog

  • Georgia O’Keeffe: Look for yourself

    That Kate Alfriend must have been one heck of a charmer. In 1938, Georgia O’Keeffe made no speech when she accepted her honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts at the College of William & Mary, but she did choose to give a few words to the girl reporter for the student newspaper. This may be the…

  • Georgia O’Keeffe as photographer

    Georgia O’Keeffe as photographer

    From the Todd Webb Archive: “Todd met Georgia O’Keeffe in 1943 at Alfred Stieglitz’s gallery, An American Place. He had dropped off some prints there the previous day and returned to find them propped up on Georgia’s desk with her studying them intently. Their friendship solidified after Stieglitz’s death in 1946, when Webb helped Georgia…

  • Georgia, Julia, and the Token Woman

    Georgia, Julia, and the Token Woman

    There is no denying that O’Keeffe was an extraordinarily ambitious professional. But it does not necessarily follow that the dearth of other successful women artists was the result of her competitiveness.

  • Georgia O’Keeffe: houseplant advice

    Alongside the very elegant rocks at O’Keeffe’s Abiquiu home, she cared for a collection of container plants, including geraniums and a huge jade plant that she had nurtured from a six-inch pot, providing her with “something green.” In case you have insects on your houseplants, O’Keeffe advised: “Puff cigarette smoke on them.”

  • Georgia O’Keeffe: what I meant, what you saw

    Georgia O’Keeffe: what I meant, what you saw

    The young Georgia O’Keeffe, working relentlessly to find her voice as an artist, was ambivalent about viewer reception. She longed for people to understand her art, but she resisted that desire at the same time. Modern art was for art’s sake, and the meaning was hers to know and not necessarily for her viewer to…

  • Georgia O’Keeffe: feminist forever

    Georgia O’Keeffe: feminist forever

    Right from the get-go, Georgia O’Keeffe resisted patriarchy. “I have always resented being told that there are things I cannot do because I am a woman,” she told a National Woman’s Party audience in 1926. “I remember how I used to argue with my brother about which were best, boys or girls. When I argued…

  • Homage to O’Keeffe

    Homage to O’Keeffe

    I have been meaning to share this video for a while… It’s by a young photographer, Petra Collins, created to celebrate the opening of the Tate Modern’s O’Keeffe retrospective last year. Interestingly, I think Collins nails O’Keeffe’s aesthetic in an interview with Vogue: “I was so drawn to her work, the shapes and lines, how…

  • Happy Birthday, Georgia!

    One of my favorite photographs of O’Keeffe, so majestic and rooted, like a tree. (She claimed to prefer trees to people.)

  • Georgia O’Keeffe, like a cat

    As a journalist and historian, I bring a perhaps too-healthy skepticism to documentaries and memoirs about O’Keeffe. They suffer, most of them, from nostalgia, or romanticism, or psychological projection. This one manages to be different. Christine Taylor Patten, interviewed by the BBC for a documentary marking the O’Keeffe retrospective at the Tate Modern last year,…

  • Before it was “O’Keeffe Country”

    Before it was “O’Keeffe Country”

    As a historian, I am always on the lookout for contemporary documentation, in order to understand what/how things meant in their own day. Somehow I stumbled upon this film about New Mexico by Carl Dudley, an American director and producer well-known for his short travelogues. It was copyrighted in 1947, at the same time that…

  • Making modernism

    Making modernism

    Three women, two continents. Artists who dwell in modernism — abandoning sentiment for the acute eye. That eye turns toward the landscape, and claims a place in the world. “O’Keeffe, Preston, Cossington Smith: Making Modernism.” The Art Gallery of New South Wales. Through October 2, 2017.

  • O’Keeffe: seeing the world from uncanny angles

    O’Keeffe: seeing the world from uncanny angles

    “O’Keeffe, Preston, Cossington Smith: Making Modernism.” The Art Gallery of New South Wales. Through October 2, 2017. The exhibit includes 30 of O’Keeffe’s paintings, three gallery’s worth. They include none of my favorites, and a number I don’t even like. (All the cottonwoods.) My goal during this second visit is to take a deep dive…

  • But is it art?

    But is it art?

    After a break, I went back to reading My Faraway One. In my June 20 post about the first two hundred pages of correspondence between Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz, I asked myself: At this point, does O’Keeffe think of herself as an artist? Lo and behold, within another hundred pages, O’Keeffe addresses this very…

  • O’Keeffe: against interpretation

    O’Keeffe: against interpretation

    Georgia O’Keeffe may be the most egregiously over-interpreted artist of all time. The interpretations, and the narratives, have gotten so thick that it’s hard to see past them to the paintings. This 1935 review, one of my favorites, is a clear view to the paintings, “freed [ . . .] from literalism.” “So intensely felt…

  • Georgia O’Keeffe: 1945 woman of achievement

    Georgia O’Keeffe: 1945 woman of achievement

    I’m making my way through the more than one thousand articles on Georgia O’Keeffe in The New York Times database. Lots of goodies! On February 10, 1946, the Times reported on the Women’s Press Club dinner in Washington, DC, attended by President and Mrs. Truman and 600 guests. Atom scientist Dr. Lise Meitner was presented…