Photograph by Alfred Stieglitz
"Hands" (Georgia O'Keeffe's) by Alfred Stieglitz sold for almost $1.5 million dollars at a 2006 Sotheby’s auction.
Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) Pioneer of Modern Photography
GeorgiaOKeefe (1887-1986), an American painter whose artistic brilliance revolutionized modern art in both her time and in the present with her paintings, which portrayed the power and emotion of objects of nature.
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|Alfred Stieglitz was 54 when Georgia arrived in New York...23 years her senior. Educated in Berlin, he had studied engineering and photography before returning to the States at the turn of the century and opening the 291 gallery. He pioneered the art of photography, and single-handedly introduced America to the works of Picasso, Matisse, and Cezanne at the gallery...along with publishing his well respected "Camera Works" magazine. Shortly after her arrival, Alfred took Georgia up to the Stieglitz family home at Lake George in the Adirondack Mountains. They would return to the lake home each summer for years to come. Georgia produced many paintings of the Lake George countryside during these years. |
Stieglitz had become obsessed with photographing Georgia since the beginning of their relationship. He would take over 300 portraits of her between 1918 and 1937. Most of the more erotic poses would be in the first few years of their marriage.
"I know now that most people are so closely concerned with themselves that they are not aware of their own individuality, I can see myself, and it has helped me to say what I want to say...in paint."
Stieglitz was Georgia's most avid supporter...arranging shows, and selling her paintings. Buying an "O'Keeffe" was not only expensive, but a collector needed to meet Stieglitz's somewhat hazy standards for owning one. By this time she was known only as "O'Keeffe" to the art world. She rarely signed a painting, but instead would sometimes print an "OK" on the back of the canvas.
Alfred's wife divorced him in September 1924 and he began to press Georgia into marriage. She was reluctant to do so since they had lived together since 1918 and had survived the scandal, seeing no reason to marry now. She finally relented and married late in December.
During the long winter months in New York she began to paint her very large flowers, some of her most popular work today. She completed her first enormous flower painting in 1924.
"Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not."
The giant flower paintings were first exhibited in 1925. A Calla Lily painting would sell for $25,000. in 1928 and draw media attention to "O'Keeffe" like never before. Georgia's financial success would finally prove to her that an artist could make a living with a paintbrush.
In 1925 she and Stieglitz moved to the Shelton Hotel in New York, taking an apartment on the 30th floor of the new building. They would live here for 12 years. With a spectacular view, Georgia began to paint the city.
"One can't paint New York as it is, but rather as it is felt."
By 1928 Georgia began to feel the need to travel and find other sources for painting. The demands of an annual show needed new material. Friends returning from the West with stories stimulated Georgia's desire to see and explore new places. Alfred had no desire to leave New York and Lake George...he hated change of any type.
In May of 1929, Georgia would set out by train with her friend Beck Strand to Taos, New Mexico...a trip that would forever change her life.