Saturday, October 30, 2010

Georgia O'Keeffe

"Georgia O'Keeffe and Orville Cox, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona 1937"
(© Trustees of The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust Collection Center for Creative Photography)

The woman with the sly and teasing look in her eyes is Georgia O'Keeffe, photographed by Ansel Adams  in 1937. He has said the following about this photograph:

“I remember that we watched a group of Navajos riding their horses westward along the wash edge, and we could occasionally hear their singing and the echoes from the opposite cliffs. The cedar and pinyon forests along the plateau rim were gnarled and stunted and fragrant in the sun. The Southwest is O'Keeffe's land; no one else has extracted from it such a style and color, or has revealed the essential forms so beautifully as she has in her paintings.” (Collaborative Arts Resources for Education)

Georgia O'Keeffe, "Ram's Head White Hollyhock and Little Hills", 1935, Brooklyn Museum

Georgia O’Keeffe, "Ranchos Church No. 1", 1929, Norton Museum of Art

Ansel Adams, "Saint Francis Church Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico", c. 1929
Gelatin silver print, 13 5/16 x 17 9/16 inches Collection Center for Creative Photography,
University of Arizona © The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust

Do you see how she simplifies the New Mexican landscape in her paintings?
And how her version of the Ranchos church is even more stringent than Adams's black and white photograph of the same church?
She shows us the beauty in those very basic architectural shapes.

Georgia O'Keeffe, "Red Poppy", 1927

"Georgia O'Keeffe" Philippe Halsman,
Gelatin silver print, 1967
Halsman Family Collection,
Image Copyright the Estate of Philippe Halsman

Her close-up of a red poppy is my favorite, but I must admit that when I first discovered her art, sometime around 1990, I was most fascinated with her as a strong and independent woman, living on her own in her beautiful Ghost Ranch house. That bottom portrait is particularly stunning, I think. Seeing her wise expression and beautiful face makes me a little better able to love my own wrinkles.

1 comment:

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