Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Mieography

Georgia Totto O'Keeffe was born in in a farmhouse in Wisconsin, in 1887. Her parents were dairy farmers, her Dad was Irish, and her mother was Hungarian and English, descendent of one of the Mayflower passengers.

She was the first girl, and the second born of seven children. Her mother made them attend art classes, and because she did well, she ended up at art school.She ended up attending various schools in Wisconsin, and boarding there, even after her family moved to Virginia. After high school, she enrolled at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She ended up in New York, however, studying under William Merritt Chase, and winning a prize for one of her still life oil paintings. The prize was a scholarship to an outdoor summer school at Lake George, New York.
She did end up eventually moving to Chicago, and finding work as a commercial artist. This didn't last long, and she soon found herself teaching art at an elementary school in the Texas Panhandle. During this time, she had no desire to paint, herself, and has even said the smell of Turpentine made her sick. After teaching for some time, she found herself in another art class, in Virginia, where she found her desire to paint, again. So inspired by her instructor, she stayed put, and served as his teaching assistant for many years. She eventually went back to Texas, and taught in the art department at A&M.
Some of her artwork found it's way to Alfred Stieglitz, who owned a famous art gallery in NYC, "291". He liked the work, very much, and exhibited ten of her drawings, without her knowledge. Hearing of it, she went to New York to confront him, and then agreed to let them hang. He helped her to find lodging in New York, and even brought her to his family home in the Adirondack Mountains. They fell in love, despite the fact that he had a wife. They did marry after his divorce was finalized. One of his passions was to photograph her, and he took more then 300 pictures of her during their marriage. His work has been exhibited in Galleries. Georgia began working primarily in oils, where she had been working in watercolors. She tended to lean towards natural or architectural influences for her work. She quickly became controversial, especially when "Black Iris III" came out, and one could easily envision the female genitalia that was not so hidden in the painting. Despite the controversy, she quickly became known as one of America's most important artists.
Georgia had the travel bug, and soon found herself in New Mexico, exploring Taos, Santa Fe, and Albuquerque. She and the friend traveling with her stayed the summer at a ranch outside of Taos. Georgia took many pack trips into the mountains and deserts during this time, and, even after she went home, she returned to New Mexico every year. In 1932, however, she got too stressed out over a mural project for Radio City Music Hall, and had a nervous breakdown. She went to Bermuda to recuperate, and did not paint again for two years. When she was ready again, she bought a house in New Mexico. She also bought herself a Model A, so she could explore on her own the place she loved so much. Her paintings from this period of time are some of her most famous landscapes. Her popularity grew even more, and she had many commissions. She ended up buying a second home in New Mexico, and continuing her work. She felt she needed to be physically close to the landscapes she was painting, so that she could produce quality work. She would crawl under her car for shade when the heat got too intense for her to paint.
After her husband died, Georgia moved to New Mexico full time, and continued to paint. She was elected to the fifty member American Academy of Arts and Letters, and continued to have large Exhibitions. Sadly, her eyesight began to fail. By the time she was 84, she was left with only peripheral vision, and had to stop painting. With some help though, she began throwing pottery. She wrote a book about her art, and had a film crew out to her ranch to do a documentary. She was presented a Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Ford, and a National Medal of Arts. As she progressed into her 90'th decade, she became more and more frail, and eventually moved to Santa Fe, where she died at the age of 98. There is a Georgia O'Keefe museum located in Santa Fe, and her home and studio are designated National Historic Landmarks.


sybil law said...

She was really awesome. :D