Sunday, October 16, 2005
A note from the famous anonymous author who is writing the O'keeffe essay,
..." in considering her work, it's useful to try to recreate the context in which it first appeared. It's hard now NOT to see the zillion reproductions we've all seen of it - so many of those predictable red poppies, yawn - but when they first appeared, in the context of the muted, austere cubists, or the esotericism of the Dadas and the Surrealists, oh, among all that intensely intellectual commentary - those powerful, small, glowing paintings were like nothing else on earth!
No-one had ever done anything like them!They drove the men nuts!Women fell in love with them!They were a complete sensation.It's hard to imagine that now, just as it's hard to imagine Renoir's blurry but decorous teaparties as revolutionary, or Monet's dissolving waterlilies as rebellious. We may like them or loathe them now, but either way they're so familiar that it's hard to get excited by them. But at the time they were shocking, as were those strange, unearthly images of O'Keeffe's.Also, O'Keeffe owns those images - magnified flowers, skulls, shells, bones. No-one can paint those things again without referring to her work - it's as though she used them so powerfully and indelibly that she's come to inhabit them permanently. That's pretty remarkable, I think. Picasso doesn't own nudes, or bulls, or interior still lifes. But O'Keeffe's images are still hers."
-I never thought I'd care but I have a renewed interest in this work, thanks R!
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