Swept in the mist of an enduring mystique, O’Keeffe’s elusive icona is in as much debt to her personality as it is to her work (which notably) spans from the simplest charcoal abstractions to vivid depictions of the American West
Georgia O’Keeffe is perhaps one of the most lauded women in the history of Art.
Swept in the mist of an enduring mystique, O’Keeffe’s elusive icona is in as much debt to her personality as it is to her work (which notably) spans from the simplest charcoal abstractions to vivid depictions of the American West.
Her character was that of a complex femina: simultaneously intense and sublimely sensual. She was a woman of unmistakable strength, consistency and unparalleled charm – the portrait of an artist is one of an inherent juxtaposition of passion and strength infused with a sense of stoic determination. O’Keeffe has often been chastised for her distinctly direct approach, yet alongside unparalleled practicality it was a crisp balance of inborn aptitudes that cemented O’Keeffe’s career as that of a pioneering female artist. Not that she would ever acknowledge this – O’Keeffe had seemingly little regard for the gender classifications and societies’ pigeonholing – in her own right she was merely seeking to express her inner assimilation with her surroundings by the means of canvas.
O’Keeffe’s early years as an artist were characterized by her now infamous encounter with photographer and gallerist Alfred Stieglitz. The intense and dogmatic correspondence accounting for 25,000 letters in the course of their lifetime serves as a token of the fervent liaison Stieglitz and young O’Keeffe quickly slipped into and never escaped. Yet by the time she met Stieglitz, O’Keeffe had already developed a trailblazing sense of independency. Exonerated by her own hesitant intimacy which characterized the beginning of their notorious relationship, O’Keeffe’s need for spaciousness was deeply intertwined with a sense of freedom and prevailed after a lengthy stay in NY.
O’Keeffe always sensed a deep affinity for the colours and visages of the Southwest, her most vivid work depicting undulating forms which encompassed both the abstract and representational was created under the intense experience of her surroundings. She soon made a permanent residency in New Mexico, and in distance from both Stieglitz and New York, she finally found an autonomy to create.
NOT THAT SHE WOULD EVER ACKNOWLEDGE THIS – O’KEEFFE HAD SEEMINGLY LITTLE REGARD FOR THE GENDER CLASSIFICATIONS AND SOCIETIES’ PIGEONHOLING – IN HER OWN RIGHT SHE WAS MERELY SEEKING TO EXPRESS HER INNER ASSIMILATION WITH HER SURROUNDINGS BY THE MEANS OF CANVAS.
O’Keeffe’s reputation wasn’t solely molded on account of her work, as she has – partly under Steglitz ‘s guidance, and partly due to her inherent androgyny swept her persona in an aura of elusiveness. Her status as a muse was merely a part of her fable. Poignant in its simplicity, O’Keeffe’s pristine attire underpinned her portrayal as a ‘reclusive priestess’. The stark dressing and recurrently monochrome palette which exhibited O’Keeffe’s appreciation for the clean and pristine stood in clear contrast to her incandescent canvasses.
The consistency of her appearance was a part of a sartorial identity fueled by meticulousness and unwavering regard when it came to dressing. Ultimately, O’Keeffe always stayed true to her yearning for achieving her full potential and regardless individualism, while trailblazing through male-dominated territory with careless spontaneity and charisma. He appearance emulated that of a women who became a modern beacon of strong convictions and individuality.
Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern will run through 23 July, 2017.