Thursday, October 1, 2009

Georgia O'Keeffe

Last week I watched the Lifetime movie about Georgia O'Keeffe. After the first two hours were almost over, and Alfred Stieglitz died, I got excited, and was looking forward to another hour about Georgia O'Keeffe living and painting in New Mexico. I was soon to be disappointed, when the movie abrubtly ended. I guess in hindsight I shouldn't have been surprised, because it was, after all, a Lifetime movie. They chose to view Georgia O'Keefe's life through her connection, romantically and professionally to Alfred Stiglitz. Of course he was a driving force in her life, and I am reminded of my son saying to me once that Georgia O'Keeffe was only famous because of Stieglitz, and I argued that while he promoted her, and gave her many of the opportunities she possibly wouldn't have had without him, she was still the first person in art history, that I know of, to paint the subject matter she chose in her own personal style.
To me, after reading much about Georgia O'Keeffe, I think of her as a strong and independant woman who would suffer almost anything to continue painting. I found the movie to be true to everything I have read about her, but from letters she wrote before she met Alfred, she still seemed to be a strong willed woman, and not quite the love sick nymph she was portrayed as in the movie.
Another one of the things I question about the movie are the size of her paintings. I have been adding Georgia O'Keeffe paintings behind my figures, and I have been trying to keep the sizes true to life. So when I saw her painting her "Oriental Poppies" probably at least 5' x 8' I was surprised that I could have been off by so much. So I looked up the size of the actual painting, and it is 30" x 40". It sure added to the drama of the painting, (in the movie) to see her painting such a giant, beautiful image! Then I remembered the first time I went to the Georgia O'Keeffe museum in Santa Fe, and was rather shocked by all the small paintings. (I think we have seen her work in print or posters for so long, that we think they are huge. A few actually are huge though.) I was blown away by the art in the movie! I think it was, and should have been, the best part of the show.
Anyway, after such a long post, I have added some Georgia O'Keeffe videos from youtube to my blog. The first one is actually Georgia O'Keeffe in New Mexico, and I think it gives you more of who Geogia O'Keeffe was in almost 10 minutes, than was shown in the entire Lifetime movie.


Anonymous said...

I am not entirely sure that O'Keeffe was/is only famous due to Stiglitz. However, he did play a major part. This is not to say that O'Keeffe was not capable or deserving or that her work wasn't great. It simply speaks to the power that patriarchy plays in determining the "success" of women. (It is also this patriarchy that contributes to some people writing O'keeffe off as only having ridden the coattails of Stiglitz.)

-your son

Suzy said...

I totally agree! Especially in the 1920's. I read somewhere that most "famous" women artists were married or "conected" to famous men. Frida Kahlo/Diego Rivera, Lee Krasner/Jackson Pollock, Tina Modotti/Edward Weston....