It's tough to sum up all that I learned this month but these are the bits and pieces that I shared on Instagram this past week and some favorite Georgia photos + passages that I hightlighted in the biography that I read. (Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O'Keeffe) It's not an organized or thorough look at her life/work but it's what I've got!
In June 1934, Georgia went West again, three years after she had left New Mexico to return to Stieglitz. She had heard friends talk about a man who was building a house at the Ghost Ranch–the most beautiful place in the world they said. It was difficult to find but she was exhilarated by the sight of the valley and would say afterwards that she knew immediately it was where she would live.
In the summer of 1938, Georgia was one of several artists that Dole Pineapple Company brought to Hawaii. In return, she gave them 2 paintings.
One was of a papaya and so they refused it. 😂 Back in NY they sent her a pineapple and she completed a new painting. Had she known she had to paint a pineapple, she never would have accepted the invitation she growled in reply.
I love when I find quirky similarities and little connections....
Alexander Calder gave Georgia a brooch with the letters OK. She loved it and often wore it in photographs. Picasso gave Frida hand earrings. She also loved them and not only wore them in photos but painted them into her self portraits. Certainly not the only thing these two have in common but a fun little connection.
Georgia returned to Ghost Ranch in the summer of 1940 to find that someone else had rented Rancho de los Burros so she offered to buy it. Georgia liked the feeling that now something was settled, that she was able always to return to the place she loved most.
On July 10, 1946 Alfred had a stroke at home. A handyman bringing in the mail found him in the apartment and called an ambulance.
Georgia had just landed in New Mexico (her first time flying there) and was on her way to Abiquiu when a boy flagged her down with a telegram. She immediately went back to the airport.
She arrived at the hospital to find Alfred in a deep coma. He died a few days later on July 13th having succumbed to a brain hemorrhage rather than the weak heart from which he had long been suffering.
Obituaries in the NY newspapers noted in subheads that Alfred Stieglitz was "the husband of Georgia O'Keeffe" Thus at his death Georgia was as well known as her famous husband.
"Although she was not the type of disciplined artist who deliberately goes to a studio each day to paint, she did prepare for the moment when she would feel ready to begin. She stretched canvases and tacked them to supports or primed canvases with a white undercoat. A half dozen blank canvases–which she jokingly called 'the hopefuls'–usually stood ready in her studio. She learned to respect the weeks or months it took for an idea to germinate, waiting in quiet expectation as the painting crystallized in her mind's eye. 'I know what I'm going to do before I begin, and if there's nothing in my head, I do nothing.' ... She also learned not to talk about what she might paint for fear of losing her impetus."
I got a start on a large Georgia inspired painting this month and since this is the only part that is in my mind's eye, I guess do nothing until the rest comes to me.
From girlhood on, Georgia had done paintings in series as a way of slowly exploring a subject, of seeing it from various angles and in different lights. A series was never finally finished; rather, the paintings just tapered off when she lost interest in them or her conviction flagged.
Although she resolutely painted "My Last Door" in 1954, she then felt compelled to continue for another six years. "It's a curse--the way I feel I must constantly go on with that door!"
This is the perfect photo to end with...so many people have shared this photo with me this month and it's funny because it's also the first photo I noticed when I flipped through my Georgia O'Keeffe books on day 1. I love it! I don't know that Georgia is more interesting or fascinating than other artists, I think it's that there's so much information available about her. Everyone had a story to tell about Georgia. She liked you or she didn't and there wasn't any in between. But it's time to move on to a new artist for April and I think she is going to be just as fun to study.