Unflattering photos by Georgia O’Keeffe show the elusive painter in her element | smart news

Photo of Georgia O'Keeffe with New Mexico in the background.

Georgia O’Keefe stands at her home, Ghost Ranch, in New Mexico. For her work, the artist often relied on images of the American Southwest.
Malcolm Farron

Who was Georgia O’Keeffe? It is a question that permeates much scholarship and writing about the legendary painter, who was at the same time one of the most photographed-And the bone mysteriousTwentieth century artists.

Was she aloof and reserved, endlessly controlling her image? (There is a rumor I once declined a solo show at the Louvre). Do you paint the female genitals or just flowers? Was she confused? The interest that surrounded her work?

Even her personal life raises fascinating questions – was she in a romantic relationship with A The 58-year-old has her? And if so, should it be celebrated or vilified?

“Georgia O’Keeffe, A Good Life: Photographs of Malcolm Farron,” on the point of view At the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico until October 31, he tries to answer that question with Never-before-seen photos The artist is approaching the end of her life.

Even the genesis of these images speaks to her aloof and elusive nature. In 1977, museum says a writer from art News He was ready to write a retrospective piece on the 90-year-old artist’s life. But when he arrived at ghost farm In Abikech, New Mexico, the artist told him she didn’t have any current photos he could use.

Fortunately, photographer Malcolm Farron He lived nearby – and proceeded to work. The result was more than 70 color photographs of O’Keefe and its landscapes of life in New Mexico. It is among the only pictures of the painter who died in 1986 at the age of 98, in her last days.

Varun reports he was not there as a friend but on a mission hypersensitivityJasmine Liu, A compilation of O’Keeffe’s artworks for display at the Guggenheim Museum. As their relationship developed, that dynamic in the photos subsided. In them, the artist is depicted with a welcoming demeanor, the seriousness of the situation and self-possession, which immediately gives way to fun beneath the surface.

Georgia O'Keeffe in a tree and laughing

The artist, pictured here at her Ghost Ranch complex, will live to age 98.

Malcolm Farron

“It was an intimate situation,” Varon says. hypersensitivity; “…her idiosyncratic personality disappeared, to me at least, during that relationship.”

The photos are also significant because they were taken in color, Ariel Plotik, curator of the Santa Fe O’Keeffe Museum, Tells hypersensitivity; The vast majority of O’Keeffe’s photos are in black and white, according to Plottick.

This aesthetic has even permeated the way O’Keeffe dresses. “During her life, she was rarely seen wearing anything other than her black and white nun-like robes, many of which she made or altered herself,” notes Liu.. “She once made it clear that if she started wearing colors, she wouldn’t have time to paint.”

These stories contribute to O’Keeffe’s portrayal as a reserved, no-nonsense person, but Varon’s photos provide a different narrative. Part of that can be attributed to his distinct photographic process, which began before he even took a single photo. Rather than creating a completely explicit image, Varun tried to create an organic emotional response by giving the person a direction, whether that was by staring at the camera, listening to music, or thinking about a memory. Once they are sufficiently immersed in whatever he has asked them to do, he can then take a photo that shows the real person and not the general mask.

O’Keefe herself was no stranger to the lens. In yet another fact that seems at odds with her public persona, the artist was in fact the subject of a variety of photographs during her lifetime. to her the husbandAlfred Stieglitz, took it in more than 300 photos over a 20-year period, according to Alfred Stiglitz groupincluding a series of stunning and controversial nudes. O’Keefe later said how she was shocked by the viewers’ reaction.

“Several men asked Stieglitz–after looking around for a moment–if he would photograph their wives or girlfriends the way he photographed me,” she said according to Barbara Buehler LinnesO’Keefe, Stieglitz and the Critics, 1916-1929. “…if they had known what close relationship he would have needed to portray their wives or girlfriends the way he photographed me – I guess they wouldn’t have cared.”

The obsession with showing Georgia O’Keeffe continued after Stieglitz. life magazine ran cover story On Artist 1968, produced at her home in New Mexico. And in 1979, Andy Warhol her picture In a series of Diamond Dust prints.

Photography could elevate and diminish O’Keeffe’s artistic endeavors. Varron suspects that her shy public attitude later in life was a long-running reaction to Stieglitz’s nude photos and her reception.

“She has done much to disavow this notion of herself as a person of a sexual nature, and that her paintings are sexual,” Varon said. hypersensitivity; “So the idea that she’s aloof and creative simply came from her celebrity status.”

“Georgia O’Keeffe, A Good Life: Portraits of Malcolm Farron” is on display at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico through October 31.