Sculpture or incinerator?
A “sculpture” by “Anton Kubek,” dreamed up by Georgia O’Keeffe and Frances O’Brien. Photo by Frances O’Brien. Gift of Brian and Bina Garfield in Honor of Frances O’Brien. Frances O’Brien Papers. Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.

Just in case we thought Georgia O’Keeffe was all work and no play . . .

This picture, accessed from the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum’s online collection, came with a story from its donor, Brian Garfield. Garfield was the son of O’Keeffe’s good friend, Frances O’Brien.

The object, Garfield explained, is a trash incinerator, of undetermined vintage, which lived in the backyard of O’Brien’s friend Regina Master, in Cheyney, PA. O’Brien showed O’Keeffe this picture, he said, and they had a great time cooking up all the details of a fantastic plan. They would mount it on a base, truck it to New York, and foist it off on the Museum of Modern Art with forged documentation, claiming it as the the work of one “Anton Kubek,” sculptor. No, it never happened, Garfield said, but it provided several years worth of laughs for the BFFs.

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It’s worth noting that back in the day O’Keeffe knew Marcel Duchamp, who, in 1913, invented the “readymade.” He infamously signed a urinal “R. Mutt” in 1917 and titled it “The Fountain.”

(The O’Keeffe Museum has digitalized much of its holdings, like this photograph, and you can access the online collection from home. Want to see her artwork, furniture, family pictures, books, clothing, painting equipment, letters and more? Click here to start browsing.)