One of my biggest heroes of all time is Painter Georgia O'Keeffe. Here was a woman born in the late 1880's who was an independent artistic soul that was born with ambition and drive to create her own world.
No picking the perfect husbnd and then following in his path for Georgia. She was intense and complicated. Normal rules did not apply to her life. Male dominated institutions she ignored completely.
After she met and married the famed photographer Alfred Stieglitz she opted to keep her own name. Not even a hyphen for Georgia.
I am watching the new Lifetime film about Ms O'Keeffe and as good as Joan Allen is I am not convinced she can pull this part off. It would seem that Joan may be too feminine for the much more masculine O'Keeffe. Georgia was tough and did not suffer fools.
Stieglitz’s first (nude) photographs of his young protégé catapulted O’Keeffe into the public eye. The great photographic avatar — the pair wed in 1924 — used these early images to encourage and promote a sexualized interpretation of her painting. As a public relations ploy, it worked spectacularly, creating an art world sensation. Everybody knew her name.
But O’Keeffe — just 29 at the time — hated anything that detracted from her self-image as a self assured, serious artist. Publicly silent, she was in no position to object.
“He’s like the voice of New York,” said Barbara Buhler Lynes, the exhibition’s co-curator and director of the O’Keeffe. “He had all the power. Furthermore, she believed in him and she was in love with him.
Georgia and Steiglitz did split living quarters with Georgia living in the South West and Alfred remaining in New York City.
After Steiglitz died Georgia outlived him by 40 years. She remained in the Southwest and left the majority of her estate to her devoted assistant and protege Juan.
There were a few iconoclasts born in the late 1880's. My grandfather was an isolated rural farm boy from a modest farming family who got into Harvard University and graduated. He was also an artist who morphed into an architect for a while.
But yeah, O'Keeffe had it tougher. Only Rosa Bonheur preceded her in genuine, no-holds-barred acclaim for a female artist from every single person connected with the art world in her own time.. (Cassatt had to await her fellow impressionists' rise.)
And I do think she made phallic images as personal choice.
I have loved O'Keeffe even more after I saw the PBS movie about her. THe reporter was a bit of a ding dong and asked her why all the Indians were laying under her car. She answered "See any other shade?"
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