Haven’t we always had a love affair with Georgia O’keefe, even as we admired her from afar and the elegant surreal life she led so well interplayed on the canvases with swirls and convocated innocence? The simplicity of her work, the caresses of paint strokes on canvas, conveyed what we all felt, what we all knew, what we all failed to congeal and fabricate. The marvelosity of O’Keefe’s work was her ability to convey the massiveness of the weight of one soul and how an overly gracious endowment of spatial perception in the vastness of places like Paulo Duro Canyon immortalized her in the Modernist Abstract Movement.
When I could scarce afford rent, I bought art. It was always a commodity investment in beauty, one a true Libran would never be lacking, or abide without its’ warmth. While I could not afford an O’Keefe, I could afford a Rominger, an art teacher friend’s work in oils, watercolor, silkscreening. O’keefe would have approved.
O’Keefe’s work began in earnest from 1917 through the late 20’s and as her popularity grew on the NYC art scene, she began to seek solace in lost and isolated landscapes “far from the madding crowd,.” The background of WWI hovered, festered and languished, the unforgiving political “infractions” surrounding the often quoted poetry of Gertrude Stein, the works of Ezra Pound and the https://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2011/10/gertrude-stein-and-the-modernism-fascism-nexus. She earnestly sought relief and found her reclusivity in the uncompromising beauty of the natural world.
I mention all this not just in passing but due to long understood developmental resentments relevant to all art lovers, who really just want to paint without the derision of critics. Now, we revisit the 20’s and never before seen works of O-Keefe are about to go on the market. I though surely, you dear reader, would relish these private moments before her personal life is so cast to the winds, pandered about like wintry leaves cast adrift. Now, prying eyes can even see her marriage certificate and likely even more intimate details of her life courtesy of Sotheby’s and her most trusted friends and heirs.
Since first seeing this work, decades ago, I’ve never been able to look at the skeletons of animals the same way. She gave glory to the afterlife, a still-life presence in death and a marked entrance to the ethereal here after in a way few artists have ever done.