How Georgia Became O’Keeffe: Lessons on the Art of Living
Published: Nov 22, 2011
Anybody feel the need to know one thing more about Georgia O’Keeffe?
How about Coco Chanel?
And, while we’re at it, let’s throw in Katharine Hepburn.
Of the trilogy, the O’Keeffe may be the most useful. Hepburn came from a family so privileged that she referred to family friend George Bernard Shaw as “Shaw.” Chanel was a dirt-poor orphan. O’Keeffe, in contrast, had a reasonably normal American childhood — we have no trouble understanding that part of her life.Then O’Keeffe steps into her own, wonderfully exciting “I gotta be me” zone.
When money was tight, she made her own clothes — including her underwear.
Alfred Stieglitz — her lover, mentor and husband — wrote at least 50,000 letters. “Those letters were Angry Birds and I Can Has Cheezburger and American Idol and retail therapy, and everything else we moderns like to do.”
“The greatest aphrodisiac is vitality.” That sentence alone is worth the price of the book.
The “epic marriage” of Stieglitz and O’Keeffe: “She was the red Porsche purchased by a middle-aged man; he was the football hero who falls in love with the awkward new girl in school.”
At the marriage ceremony, she refused to say “honor” or “obey.”
Yes, there’s the standard stuff you want and need to know: the paintings, the photographs, her love of the Southwest. All presented lightly, effortlessly, casually, colloquially. “For O’Keeffe, forty was the new sixty,” Karbo writes. That’s not being cool. That’s just style.