Wednesday, March 3, 2010

March is Women's History Month

Georgia  O'Keeffe


Georgia  O'Keeffe was a major figure in
American art in the 1920s. 
She is  known for paintings of flowers,
rocks, shells, animal bones, and landscapes. 
She often transformed her subject
matter into powerful abstract images.
Georgia brought her American Art style
to Europe at a time when the majority
of influence flowed in the opposite direction
thus enhancing  her art-historical importance.
She was one of few women to have gained
entry to this level of professional influence.

 A major facter that determined her success was 
due to her Mother's great influence and
determination for her daughters to be educated.
Education for women was a  tradition in Goergia's family.
Georgia's mother, Ida had been educated in the East.

So, it was only natural,
 that the next step Georgia would take,
after graduatiang high school,
was to  enroll at the
 School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
 Then in the summer of 1907,
she also attended the
  Art Students League in New York City. 

In the autumn of 1908, she became
very discouraged with her work
 and became an elementary school
art teacher near Amarillo, Texas. 
 Her need to paint could not be quenched
and she was drawn to attend a class at
theUniversity of Virginaia Summer School. 
She found inspiration by learning how to
express herself through the process of making art by
contrasting light and dark colors in her paintings.

Self-Protrait of Alfred Steiglitz

In April 1916, Alfred Stieglitz,
her future husband,
 saw her work and exhibited
 ten of her drawings.
He was quoted as
saying that they were the 
 "purest, finest, sincerest things
that had entered 291
( his gallery) in a long while."
 Stieglitz organized annual
exhibitions of  Georgia's work.
Photograph of Alfred Stieglitz
Georgia  was becoming
well  known
 as one ofAmerica's
 most important artists.
Her work commanded high prices;
 in 1928 six of her
Calla Lily paintings sold for
 $25,000 US dollars,
which was the
largest sum ever paid
 for a group of paintings
 by a living American artist.
This drew media attention
to Georgia as never before.

Photogtraph by Alfred Stieglitz

Alfred  and Georgia had fallen deeply
in love and  in1924, they married.
 Alfred was Georgia's only love even though  
    their relationship became very rocky at times.
They separated many times and actually
 lived apart until the last years of  Alfred's life
   In the summer of 1946, Georgia left her
 home in New Mexico, when he
suffered a cerebral thrombosis.
She took care of him and stayed by his side
until he passed away in July of that same year. 

Photograph of Alfred Stieglitz

In the midst of their struggles, they inspired
 one another to produce  the kind of art that came 
without hesitation or fear to create what they
 felt was real and true to themselves as artists.

Phtograph by Alfred Stieglitz

 And true to his own art, in February 1921,
forty-five of Stieglitz's photographs,
  including many of Georgia, some in the nude,
were in an art exhibit  at the Anderson Galleries.
The photographs of Georgia created a public sensation.

Photograph of Alfred Stieglitz

In 1932, Georgia suffered a nervous breakdown
following an uncompleted Radio City Music Hall
mural project that had fallen behind schedule.
She was hospitalized in early 1933
and did not paint again until January 1934.
 In June of that year, she visited Ghost Ranch,
 in New Mexico and decided immediately to live there.
 The varicolored cliffs of  the  beautiful landscape
  inspired some of her most famous works of art.

Georgia O'Keeffe"s Home in New Mexico

A loner, Georgia explored the
place she loved on her own.
She bought a Ford Model A
 and asked others to
teach her how to drive.
One of her frustrated teachers 
declared that she was unable
 to learn the art of driving.
This only made her  more determined
to learn and soon
she was driving all over
 her ranch with ease!

Another view of Georgia O'Keeffe's Home in New Mexico

No matter the circumstance,
Georgia O'Keeffe was determined to never gave up ! 
Even though she took several breaks from her painting,
 she never completely gave up the need to create art.
 After her nervous breakdown,  her strong will and
 determination never faltered.

 She  survived the  personal storms
 in her life because her great love 
to paint was stronger than
 any crisis she had to face.
She worked continously to
 perfect her craft by finding
 new ways to express in her
 art what she saw in
the desert sky and landscape
 she had grown so fond of.
Although simple in subject matter,
Georgia  painted the
smallest of flowers and the largest
 of desert rocks and bones,
making powerful statements through the
 abstract images she created on canvas.  

Pencil drawing of Georgia O'Keeffe

In 1962, Georgia was elected to the fifty-member
 American Academy of Arts and Letters.
 In  1970, the Whitney Museum of American Art
mounted the Georgia O'Keeffe Retrospective Exhibition.
This exhibit did much to revive her public career.
It brought Georgia  to the attention of a new
generation of women raised on the principles of feminism.

In 1971, at the age of 84, Georgia's eyesight
began to fail so quickly that within the next year,
 she was forced to lay down her paintbrush
 and stopped painting. She was suffering from an
 eye degenerative disease that could not be cured.
At the age of 84, she was losing her central vision
due to an irreversible eye degeneration disease.

Even with her dimming eyesight,
her determination once again stood stong,
 as she was inspired by others to paint again.
She hired a studio assistant to help her  
to execute some of her ideas.
During this time she agreed to accept
interviews and other opportunities.
In 1976 she wrote a book about her art.
 She also allowed a film crew to do
a documentary at Ghost Ranch.

Marble Memorial of Georgia O'Keeffe

On January 10, 1977,
President Gerald R. Ford
 presented Georgia with the
 Presidential Medal of Freedom,
the highest honor awarded
 to American citizens.
In 1985, she was awarded
 the National Medal of Arts.

When she became increasingly frail,
Georgia moved to Santa Fe
 and continued to paint only
weeks before her death on
 March 6, 1986, at the age of 98.
 She was cremated the next day and her
ashes were scattered at the top of the
Pedernal Mountain  over her beloved "faraway".


I do not like the idea of happiness
 – it is too momentary –
I would say that I was always busy
 and interested in something
– interest has more meaning to me
than the idea of happiness

The unexplainable thing in nature that makes me
 feel the world is big fat beyond my understanding –
to understand maybe by trying to put it into form.
To find the feeling of infinity on the horizon line
 or just over the next hill.

I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life -
and I've never let it keep me from
 doing a single thing I wanted to do.
To create one's world in any of the arts takes courage.

You get whatever accomplishment
you are willing to declare.

I decided that if I could paint that flower in a huge scale,
 you could not ignore its beauty.

Where 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.


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