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Georgia O keeffee
(November 15, 1887 - March 6, 1986)

Another very long life span (after Grandma Moses and Tamara de Lempicka), that of Georgia O'keeffee who lived for 98 years.

Does painting help living a long life?

Her painting were elegant, simple, modern:

"...modern in its precision, clean lines, and elegant simplicity"
(GEORGIA O'KEEFFE MUSEUM)

She lived in New York in the roaring 1920s, the most modern, bustling and wealthy environment that human society had ever exerienced (in my opinion,along with today's Silicon Valley, and Shanghai; in history, also the centre of Italy in the XII-XVI century, and Holland, and the Baltic in the XV-XVI century).

Georgia o'Keffe was born in a rural environment - Sun Prairie, Wisconsin - and when she finished her education (1908) Picasso and Braque had just "invented cubism" (1907-10). I didn't read any comment on the influence of Picasso on her work, but it's impossible that she, consciously or unconsciously, was not influenced by him, too. (All art in those years was. Even today's artists so often to be seen in a competition about who is the most extravagant, this attitute, I am saying, has to do with Picasso.)

What I like when learning about her life was to read that she even stopped painting for a few years (1908-1912) after her traditional art education based on imitative realism. She was looking for HER inner voice, and thanks to a good teacher, in this case Arthur Wesley Dow, she found it. Dow's idea was that "..the artist's personal ideas and feelings and that such subject matter was best realized through harmonious arrangements of line, color, and notan (the Japanese system of lights and darks)" (museum website bio).

I think of how important is to find a good teacher in any field!

New York and - after the death of her mentor and husband Alfred Stieglitz (an art gallerist) - New Mexico (Taos) were the "0'Keefee country". Pencil and watercolor her preferred medium, reportedly, I see also many works with oil.


View Larger Map (Taos Pueblo, New Mexico)

Georgia O'keefee paintings - Georgia O Keefee Museum

Georgia O'keefee paintingsMorning Sky with houses, 1916. A great watercolour, fully "her voice", and not just an exact reproduction of reality. Watercolour, in my opinion, has this advantage: it's has its own life and one can behave "painterly" on the paper. However, I think you need a lot of discipline to master it...

Georgia O'keefee paintings
Nude painting 1916

 

Georgia O'keefee paintingsCanyon with crows, 1917. If ever I feel inspired by a painting now and then, this is one of them! Great personal vision of a canyon in semi-arid conditions. The reds and green are complementary colours and enhance each other, while the blue breaks the monotony. The composition "lulls" the eyes in swing movements which continue with the crows in the sky...

 

George o keefee pink and green mountainPink and Green Mountain

Georgia O'keefee paintings
Drawing with charcoal, 1915. Texture and shapes...

Georgia O'keefee paintings
Green lines and pink 1919.
Abstract art could not exist without Picasso

green-lines-and-pink-1919Brooklin Bridge, 1919. There it is! The Picasso influence!

Georgia o'Keefee paintings
Lilly painting, 1923. Flowers are another frequent subject
in georgia O'Keefee paintings

Georgia o'Keefee paintings
Abstraction on white rose, 1927

Georgia o'Keefee paintingsRam head, 1935

Georgia o'Keefee paintingsWinter tree, 1953

Georgia o'Keefee paintingsSky above clouds yellow horizon and clouds 1976-1977.
This, for me, is a typical example of how important is too see the real thing, the real painting that is.. This "rothko"- like paintings must be seen personally in a museum. I remember my surprise to see for the first time Velasquez paintings in the Prado's Museum (Madrid), too, for instance: they are huge!. Instead, the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci at the Louvre is rather small. Here, it's impossible to convey on the screen the real colours and impression. An anti-internet message: move out and get in touch with the real world...
I have never been to New Mexico but I imagine that it must be quite a change from New York. In the end, you either live at the bottom of a "container" such as New York full of high buildings, or Switzerland with his mountains always around you, or at the "top" of the container, in a flat luminous landscape. New Mexico's light and flat landscape might be similar to the South of France or Venice. These places are in "full-bright" mode. And light is in the end what thrive art, isnn't it?. Hey, this is a nearly mystical statement!

 

 

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