Friday, September 02, 2005

Georgia O'Keefe

My first acquaintance with Georgia O'Keefe came about through a feature in Reader's Digest about twenty years ago. There was a certain shock value about her paintings that stayed with me. It seemed like a flower could not be turned any more visceral. Much later I read critics thought they were symbolic of female sexuality and even represented genitalia.

It's interesting to read the different things she said about the flowers that are her most extraordinary signature.

"When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it's your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not."

"Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven't time, and to see takes time - like to have a friend takes time."

"I decided that if I could paint that flower in a huge scale, you could not ignore its beauty."

While all of that and more is evident in her work, her somewhat irreverent quote on why she chose to paint flowers over anything else seems harder to fathom

"I hate flowers - I paint them because they're cheaper than models and they don't move."

Last week my friend A and I were talking about places in the United States that attract artists and New Mexico and thus Georgia O'Keefe came to be discussed. She lived there for years and said

"When I think of death, I only regret that I will not be able to see this beautiful country anymore...unless the Indians are right and my spirit will walk here after I'm gone."

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