Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O’Keeffe

“To create one’s world in any of the arts takes courage.” 
 Georgia O’Keeffe

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My 2013 Reading Program included “Portrait of an Artist – A Biography of Georgia O’Keeffe” by Laurie Lisle. I wanted to explore the creative process, to get a glimpse into how an artist thinks, feels, plans and executes.

Georgia O’Keeffe transformed the way we understand the artistic endeavours of women.  Her work was dramatic, full of colour and challenged the status quo.   Recognized as the “Mother of American Modernism,” she was only twelve when she knew she would be an artist. And it seemed the universe complied with her wishes, orchestrating the experiences, the mentors and connections that pushed her vision forward.  Known for her flower canvases and south-western landscapes, she became one of America’s most significant and successful artists.

Born in a Wisconsin farmhouse is 1887, she was a contemporary of Helen Keller (1880-1968), poet Edith Sitwell (1887-1964), writer Agatha Christie (1890 – 1976) and women’s activists Alice Paul (1885-1997) and Jeannette Rankin, (1880-1973).This was a time of opportunity for women, simply because they demanded a voice.  Her journey from a small rural community to New York City to New Mexico is filled with a mixture of laughter, excitement, poignancy and acceptance.

“I think it’s so foolish for people to want to be happy. Happy is so momentary–you’re happy for an instant and then you start thinking again. Interest is the most important thing in life; happiness is temporary, but interest is continuous.” 
Georgia O’Keeffe

15 thoughts on “Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O’Keeffe

  1. My dear friend: Very interesting…because I may write a post on Georgia O’ Keefe, because I just saw an exhibition at MOMA : American Modern: Hopper to O ‘ Keefe. Your post also reminded me of an exhibition around 2009 in SFMOMA about O’Keefe and Ansel Adams. I like the quote about “interest” . I think interest will hopefully reach “self actualization” . Although self actualization does not necessarily mean happiness , both can be the goals set up by different individuals. Just something to ponder about…thanks for this stimulating post!

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    • That is a very good question! From what I have read so far (and I am not through the book as yet) Georgia O’Keeffe was a solitary figure who focused primarily on her painting. She met friends along the way – Ansel Adams being one of them. Alfred Stieglitz, her husband, photographer and modern art promoter, had a wide circle of friends. They made an interesting duet…

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