How Georgia Became O'Keeffe: Lessons On The Art Of Living

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9780762781294: How Georgia Became O'Keeffe: Lessons On The Art Of Living
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Most people associate Georgia O’Keeffe with New Mexico, painted cow skulls, and her flower paintings. She was revered for so long—born in 1887, died at age ninety-eight in 1986—that we forget how young, restless, passionate, searching, striking, even fearful she once was—a dazzling, mysterious female force in bohemian New York City during its heyday.

 

In this distinctive book, Karen Karbo cracks open the O’Keeffe icon in her characteristic style, making one of the greatest women painters in American history vital and relevant for yet another generation. She chronicles O’Keeffe’s early life, her desire to be an artist, and the key moment when art became her form of self-expression. She also explores O’Keeffe’s passionate love affair with master photographer Alfred Stieglitz, who took a series of 500 black-and-white photographs of O’Keeffe during the early years of their marriage.

 

This is not a traditional biography, but rather a compelling, contemporary reassessment of the life of O’Keeffe with an eye toward understanding what we can learn from her way of being in the world. 

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About the Author:

Karen Karbo is the author of The Gospel According to Coco Chanel (skirt!) and How to Hepburn: Lessons on Living from Kate the Great, which the Philadelphia Inquirer called “an exuberant celebration of a great original.” Her three novels were all named New York Times notable books, and The Stuff of Life, her memoir about her father, was a People Magazine Critic’s Pick and winner of the Oregon Book Award. 

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How O'Keeffe Became Herself

In the art world, critics remain divided over whether O'Keeffe was a genius or merely an energetic fetishist who pressed upon us, year after year, her sexy yin and yang paintings of calla lilies, sweet peas, the various chalk white bones of horses and cows, mysterious doorways, and adobe walls. What remains indisputable, however, is her genius for navigating the waters of her own vision, for discovering it, nurturing it, and never abandoning it. At a time when women still didn't have the right to vote, when their life goal was marriage to pretty much anyone who would have them, O'Keeffe was having none of it. She had better fish to fry. How, we may ask, did she catch these all-important fish?

She wrote letters

I realize I may as well be suggesting that you take up whittling, but the fact remains that one of the best ways to figure out what you're all about is to write letters. . . .

She found a devotee

One of the reasons O'Keeffe was able to flaunt the conventions of Canyon with such confidence and ease is because she had Stieglitz rooting her on from New York. . . . .

She defied all accepted conventions of feminine beauty

With her fabulous raw-boned frame, snaggly brows, and schoolmarm's bun, her black vestments, man's shoes, and odd assortment of hats and turbans, O'Keeffe was out there. There was no like her, then or ever. . . .

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