I’m GEORGIA O’KEEFFE
Georgia O’Keeffe Paintings
“Georgia O’Keeffe paintings – my inspiration. Well here are the New York City paintings.
Once again she’s got me. I really long to live among these skyscrapers, and here I am in the desert. She did both!
How fortunate to have this video : to see her and hear her describe some of her life experiences. Enjoy with me!
NEW YORK CITY
Georgia O’Keeffe Paintings
The Barren Landscape
and expansive skies of the desert, Georgia O’Keefe would become chiefly known for paintings of flowers, rocks, shells, animal bones, and the quiet beauty of open skies and sun-drenched terrains. However, it is her paintings of New York city done in the 1920?s that have always captured my imagination and linger in memory.
The drama and excitement of the modern metropolis at that time in history was unmistakable. Embodied in landmark skyscrapers like the American Radiator Building located at West 40th Street, in midtown Manhattan. Designed by Raymond Hood, the combined Gothic and modern styles in the design of the Radiator Building was massive. Therefore, solid, and illustrious. In other words, a feat of wonder erected to match the prosperity of the period.
Black brick on the frontage of the building (symbolizing coal) was prominently featured while other parts of the facade were covered in gold bricks (symbolizing fire).
The entry was decorated with marble and black mirrors in a style reminiscent of an Ayn Rand dream. Ornamented and sculptured, it was an edifice of opulence, particularly after dark when the upper floors were illuminated with floodlights.
The building at night in the changing skyline of New York that Georgia O’Keeffe captured in her wonderfully theatrical interpretation, “Radiator Building at Night.”
Painted from her window on the thirtieth floor of the Shelton Hotel. She shared the apartment with her husband, the photographer Alfred Stieglitz. O’Keeffe detailed flooded lights illuminating the sky at right. And at left, a bright red marquee ablaze with the name “Stieglitz” in its glow.
Georgia O’Keeffe painting of the Radiator in 1927 (the same year as Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, tellingly) is remarkable for its color. And for the depiction of the artificial light of the city night – the purple/blue tints of floodlights and the fluorescent whites of the office towers. There’s a touch of warm incandescence in windows here and there. The stylized smoky steam arising from the building at the right echoes the flipped curved cornices of the Radiator’s top floors. It’s pure theater.
City Night, 1926
The importance of the skyscraper at the time cannot be overlooked; it was considered a distinctly American “thing,” signifying symbols of modern technology. How it was to be represented in an accurate and aesthetically pleasing way became a challenge to photographers and painters alike in the New York art world. For artists like Charles Demuth and Charles Sheeler, for example, the mystique of the skyscraper was so great, it ultimately, became their muse.
Europeans visiting New York were equally fascinated with the architectural feats. “The appeal America exercised was possible because America was free. It was unlimited in space, it abounded in natural resources and in money. It knew no tradition, it had no history.”
During those early years in New York, Georgia O’Keeffe grew to know the many early American modernists who were part of Stieglitz’s circle of friends. They included Demuth, Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, Paul Strand and Edward Steichen. Strand’s photography, as well as that of Stieglitz and his many photographer friends, was instrumental in inspiring O’Keefe’s work (as evidenced below).
New York with Moon, 1925
While Georgia O’Keeffe’s New York paintings bear a romantic characteristic. In other words resembling that of the Romantic movement and its fascination for glowing celestial bodies and halos. Painted in mystical colors, her urban works are most closely associated with the American art movement of the 1920’s known as Precisionism, or Cubist Realism.
The Shelton with Sunspots, 1926
Many critics found mystical meaning in her work. O’Keefe, herself, claimed she had no tolerance for such faulty interpretations. In response to those misguided dreamers, she emphatically noted:
“The things they write sound so strange and far removed from what I feel of myself. They make me seem like some strange unearthly sort of creature floating in the air. Like I breath in clouds for nourishment. When the truth is that I like beef steak – and like it rare at that.”
Georgia O’Keeffe was considered the premier female artist of the 20th century, a title she considered sexist.
Unusually private, O’Keeffe was rather bored by people and society, preferring to live and work in relative solitude. She was an intense, plainspoken woman who lived in the moment, focusing on the essence of things in her life. As well as her art, and eliminating the superfluous.