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Georgia O'Keeffe, one of the most original painters America has ever produced, left behind a remarkable legacy when she died at the age of ninety-eight. Her vivid visual vocabulary--sensuous flowers, bleached bones against red sky and earth--had a stunning, profound, and lasting influence on American art. O'Keeffe's personal mystique is as intriguing and enduring as her b Georgia O'Keeffe, one of the most original painters America has ever produced, left behind a remarkable legacy when she died at the age of ninety-eight. Her vivid visual vocabulary--sensuous flowers, bleached bones against red sky and earth--had a stunning, profound, and lasting influence on American art. O'Keeffe's personal mystique is as intriguing and enduring as her bold, brilliant canvases. Here is the first full account of her exceptional life-- from her girlhood and early days as a controversial art teacher, to her discovery by the pioneering photographer of the New York avant-garde, Alfred Stieglitz, to her seclusion in the New Mexico desert, where she lived until her death. And here is the story of a great romance between the extraordinary painter and her much older mentor, lover, and husband, Alfred Stieglitz. Renowned for her fierce independence, iron determination, and unique artistic vision, Georgia O'Keeffe is a twentieth-century legend who career spanned the history modern art in America.


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Georgia O'Keeffe, one of the most original painters America has ever produced, left behind a remarkable legacy when she died at the age of ninety-eight. Her vivid visual vocabulary--sensuous flowers, bleached bones against red sky and earth--had a stunning, profound, and lasting influence on American art. O'Keeffe's personal mystique is as intriguing and enduring as her b Georgia O'Keeffe, one of the most original painters America has ever produced, left behind a remarkable legacy when she died at the age of ninety-eight. Her vivid visual vocabulary--sensuous flowers, bleached bones against red sky and earth--had a stunning, profound, and lasting influence on American art. O'Keeffe's personal mystique is as intriguing and enduring as her bold, brilliant canvases. Here is the first full account of her exceptional life-- from her girlhood and early days as a controversial art teacher, to her discovery by the pioneering photographer of the New York avant-garde, Alfred Stieglitz, to her seclusion in the New Mexico desert, where she lived until her death. And here is the story of a great romance between the extraordinary painter and her much older mentor, lover, and husband, Alfred Stieglitz. Renowned for her fierce independence, iron determination, and unique artistic vision, Georgia O'Keeffe is a twentieth-century legend who career spanned the history modern art in America.

30 review for Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O'Keeffe

  1. 4 out of 5

    WILLIAM2

    I'm no great reader of biographies. I tend to find them lackluster with their cradle-to-grave narrative arc and cheap psychologizing. But this particular work is terrific. It's insightful. We see how Georgia O'Keeffe's talent developed early in life. In 1903-04 Georgia and her many sisters were driven some miles in a horse and buggy from their Wisconsin farm to art lessons, an almost unheard of extravagance in those still largely frontier days. We follow O'Keeffe during her subsequent study at t I'm no great reader of biographies. I tend to find them lackluster with their cradle-to-grave narrative arc and cheap psychologizing. But this particular work is terrific. It's insightful. We see how Georgia O'Keeffe's talent developed early in life. In 1903-04 Georgia and her many sisters were driven some miles in a horse and buggy from their Wisconsin farm to art lessons, an almost unheard of extravagance in those still largely frontier days. We follow O'Keeffe during her subsequent study at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Art Students League in New York (57th St.), and Columbia University (Teacher's College), also in New York. She becomes a most unorthodox teacher of art in Virginia and, later, Texas. It is while there, in West Texas, that she discovers Big Sky country, the American southwest, whose strange beauty was to possess her for the rest of her life. But between the Texas teaching and the full-time move to New Mexico there was an interval in New York when she was discovered by Alfred Stieglitz, the photographer and gallerist, who championed her, scandalously left his wife and married her, a woman 25 years younger than himself. For about twenty years she lives with the garrulous Stieglitz in New York. In the spring and summer they shift activities to the Stieglitz family compound upstate on Lake George. Here the great man is surrounded by his large family and circle of admirers. For Georgia, the East ultimately comes to seem a dead place. She yearns for the desert southwest. A change is made. Instead of going to Lake George for the summer, she will go to New Mexico, where she will paint prolifically. (She was virtually blocked in the East.) There she discovers Ghost Ranch, and a few years later the house at Abiquiu. Steiglitz doesn't like the arrangement but he knows she will not paint otherwise, so her lets her go. The arrangement continues until his death in 1946, when, after three years spent settling his estate, she moves west full time. In the 1960s, the heyday of Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art, she undergoes a ludicrous fall from critical favor. The absurd interpretations by the critics of the day are well represented, and hilarious they are too for being so fantastically off the mark. In the early 1970s she is justly returned to her proper status with a series of big shows in major U.S. cities. I found her will an astonishing thing to contemplate. Unlike most people, and this was her greatest gift in my view, perhaps greater than her artistic mastery, she knew what she wanted from life, almost from day one, and she doggedly went out and got it. This focus is at the core of her spare way of life and stripped down esthetic. Most of all she had this immense appetite for solitude. For most of us, with our various codependencies, that's hard to imagine. But it was fascinating to see it manifest in the life of this woman whose character seems set from the moment of birth. She is an astonishing historical figure largely because of her output of a timeless body of art which has defied all critical reductions. The author has done an excellent job. The biography's far more penetrating than I had thought it could be. And this is done for the most part by showing and quotation, not by that awful sort of psychologizing that is actually a projection of the writer's own wishes. Warmly recommended.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lin Ennis

    This is one of the two biographies recommended to docents at the O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe--the less technical one, according to the gift shop assistant who helped me select one. I chose "less technical" because I wanted a fast read--and it was, because Georgia O'Keeffe was such an interesting person. I deducted one star because the writing style is not exceptional. The writer was too much in the way, creating the feeling of being told only what the writer found out. Of course, one wants the tr This is one of the two biographies recommended to docents at the O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe--the less technical one, according to the gift shop assistant who helped me select one. I chose "less technical" because I wanted a fast read--and it was, because Georgia O'Keeffe was such an interesting person. I deducted one star because the writing style is not exceptional. The writer was too much in the way, creating the feeling of being told only what the writer found out. Of course, one wants the truth, but somehow this seemed taped together. Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about O'Keeffe and learning more about her. Reading most of it while I was in the impressive landscape of Santa Fe itself made O'Keeffe feel more "present." I took a day trip to Taos, a place O'Keeffe said she would not live because it was too arty! Much has been said about O'Keeffe's brusque personality, and this book, too, presents more of that than any softer side or even romance. I was under the impression O'Keeffe had lovers besides Steiglitz, at least after his death, and perhaps shortly after she moved to New Mexico. This volume says nothing about that, so I don't know more than the vague impressions I've gathered over the years. Regarding her apparent harshness, I suspect some of it was her mischievous sense of humor misunderstood or misinterpreted by those around her. In school, she was quite the life of the party; though, she was careful not to get caught purveying trouble. It's possible that in mid- and later-life, she was still not "caught" being mischievous with a remark, such as when someone appeared at her gate asking to see her and O'Keeffe said, "Front side," then turned and said "Back side. Good-bye." She did not suffer fools gladly. (Perhaps a more specific request would have garnered a different answer.) Most important to O'Keeffe was painting and Portrait of an Artist treats her style and development thoroughly. She was aware her success created expectations that each year's show would surpass the last. Usually that happened through her normal process of pushing herself to her limits, but in later years it added stress. Like great comedians or musicians, she became an "overnight success" by honing her craft and getting better at it day after day, year after year. Without seeing her paintings chronologically, what exactly she did to improve escapes me, but such changes are mentioned in this tome. I've wondered about motifs I've seen in paintings, repeated elements or entire scenes. O'Keeffe explained that for herself, she painted a thing over and over, e.g. the door in her courtyard, trying to get it "right." She embraced feminism early, but later distanced herself from it because she did not want to be a "woman painter." She wanted to be a "painter," period, and that was the strongest thing she could do for the cause; although, helping the cause was not her intent. If you want to do something great with your life, be inspired by this person who at age 10 decided to be an artist, and with few breaks worked at that every day of her life. She studied. She focused. She thought. She considered. She painted. Over and over again. Till she got it right.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    I read this book a long time ago, after first seeing some of the works of Georgia O'Keefe at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. I remember it being a wonderful feeling, something in her paintings resonated at a deep level, I didn't understand it, but I felt it and thus began a curious exploration into her life and works. I remember this now, because her name has begun to pop up on my radar again, first with this novel Georgia: A Novel of Georgia O'Keeffe due for publication in Feb 2016 an I read this book a long time ago, after first seeing some of the works of Georgia O'Keefe at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. I remember it being a wonderful feeling, something in her paintings resonated at a deep level, I didn't understand it, but I felt it and thus began a curious exploration into her life and works. I remember this now, because her name has begun to pop up on my radar again, first with this novel Georgia: A Novel of Georgia O'Keeffe due for publication in Feb 2016 and then recently the discovery of a major retrospective of her work, planned from Jul 6 to Oct 30 at the Tate Modern in London, 100 years after her New York debut.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    Halfway through: Look at Georgia photographed by Alfred Stieglitz: https://www.google.se/search?q=alfred... Look at the chin. Who she is is visible in her eyes and in that chin. This book is very, very good. Keep in mind I am no huge fan of all those huge flower paintings. The person is what drew me, and I am not disappointed. Did SHE intend the eroticism so often associated with her paintings? Damn art critics! I have always been terribly dissatisfied with the need of critics to explain art. Isn't Halfway through: Look at Georgia photographed by Alfred Stieglitz: https://www.google.se/search?q=alfred... Look at the chin. Who she is is visible in her eyes and in that chin. This book is very, very good. Keep in mind I am no huge fan of all those huge flower paintings. The person is what drew me, and I am not disappointed. Did SHE intend the eroticism so often associated with her paintings? Damn art critics! I have always been terribly dissatisfied with the need of critics to explain art. Isn't it enough to look and ask yourself what you feel? ********************************** On completion: I adored this book. My pleasure has been drawn from getting to understand Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986). What a person! It is her, not her art that speaks to me. I had no idea who she was before picking up this book, other than her art of course. Now I simply feel happy knowing that such a person existed. So maybe you think, since I am so happy to "know" her now, that she has been idolized here in these pages. Forget that. This is no hagiography. The good and the bad, all of it is here. I love it because you get the truth; because you feel when you close the book you intimately know another soul. I am thinking, this person was out there, and I knew nothing about her . I was merely acquainted with her artwork. Do you understand? It is knowing the person that is such an immense revelation to me. There are revealing quotes, of things she has said and of what others said. She was blunt. She knew what she thought, and she said it. She knew what she wanted to do, and she did it. She was self-reliant. She worked hard. Her advice to other artists? “You must really work and not just talk about working.” Alfred Stieglitz, her husband the famed photographer, said that when she wanted something she made other people give it to her. So true. There is a story about a little stone..... It’s a perfect example! She got that stone, but the point is here that how she got it is so well told. Both what is unknown and what is known is clarified. The author throws in marvelous details that are revealing, amusing, poignant. O'Keeffe tried to show people how to see. Listening to her words she made me better appreciate what I see. How to emotionally relate to what is before our eyes. She saw the world around her and she showed me what she saw and how she felt. The emotional impact is part of seeing. It is the author that has achieved this, not Georgia O'Keeffe, because it was her that has chosen the quotes and put them there in the right sequence so the reader understands their import. O'Keeffe knew so many famous artists. Easily the book could have succumbed to name-dropping. That doesn't happen; each person referred to is tied in with relevant, fascinating information. An example - at 84 O'Keeffe lost her central vision; from then she saw only peripherally. In reference to this the American artist Mary Cassatt's loss of vision is mentioned. How O'Keeffe coped is well drawn, both emotionally and concretely. There is a particular broach given to her by Alexander Calder, this being another example. A word about the writing. The author is married to an artist. You can tell. In the audiobook we see no pictures. I do not know what pictures are included in the hardcover. On one level this isn’t a problem because with internet images are accessible. Yet color, both hue and intensity, is integral to the art of O’Keeffe, and color on a computer screen is not true to life, but neither is it in a printed book! Thus the author’s words in conveying the correct feeling and nuance are essential. The author beautifully describes landscapes, events and artwork with artistic lines. She speaks of “the curl of a lip and the raising of an eyebrow” so you see them. Her written words let you see what a picture can show. Here are some examples: -the celestial blues, milky whites, pale pinks of the painting radiated a glacial light -a sunset's hot golden glow on the valley -the chunk of heaven the artist had captured You need such writing in a book about art. The book is about O’Keeffe, but it is also about Alfred Stieglitz! Both are fascinating individuals. Their relationship is portrayed honestly and with insight, and how it changed. He died in 1946; she in 1986. That is forty years in-between. Her life was far from over. She needed a new agent. She travelled. She met Juan Hamilton. Her life in Abiquiù, New Mexico. It is all here, up to her death. She chose cremation, no funeral or memorial service. The audiobook I listened to is narrated by Grace Conlin. It started off too fast, but the speed slows down except in a few sections. I grew to like the narration very much. When you listen to O’Keeffe quotes you can wonder if she is being sarcastic, deliberately funny or just direct. This is part of her character and it comes across perfectly. I believe this books means so much to me because I easily relate to O’Keeffe’s personality. I am too blunt. I am too much of a perfectionist. I share her view on art critics and feminists. She is a feminist by her deeds, not through talk. We both hate cooking but enjoy taste. We both value simplicity and prefer black clothing. We are both tied to nature and see its beauty. Have I given you enough of an idea to determine if O’Keefe as a person might be someone you can relate to? Of course, you can also read the book to simply learn of what she accomplished. I was uncertain when I began whether to read this book by Laurie Lisle or Georgia: A Novel of Georgia O'Keeffe. The second is historical fiction. Why read that and wonder on completion which of the details were true? I am totally satisfied with my decision. If I love a book, the first thing I do is go and check if I can read another by the author. There is this: Louise Nevelson: A Passionate Life. Wow, doesn’t that look interesting? It isn’t available to me, but I would grab it immediately if I could. If you read it, please tell me if it is as good.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Marie Castellano

    This is a well researched and presented biography of a complex personality. Georgia O'Keefe was an introvert, independent, determined individual. She did not suffer fools, period. The author tells her story from childhood through her time as a controversial art teacher, through her marriage to Stieglitz, and her life in her beloved deserts of New Mexico. She tells the story honestly but respectfully. One can see and experience O'Keefe's triumphs as well as her moments of self-doubt. The reader l This is a well researched and presented biography of a complex personality. Georgia O'Keefe was an introvert, independent, determined individual. She did not suffer fools, period. The author tells her story from childhood through her time as a controversial art teacher, through her marriage to Stieglitz, and her life in her beloved deserts of New Mexico. She tells the story honestly but respectfully. One can see and experience O'Keefe's triumphs as well as her moments of self-doubt. The reader learns a lot about the art world and the history of the times and how they affected this woman pioneering in a male dominated arena. Well done.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Carol Ascher

    This is a wonderful biography of Georgia O'Keefe, showing her struggles for autonomy and her efforts to find her own pictoral images, amidst a relationship with an older well-known photographer. The biography has a light touch, but gives O'Keefe the full complexity of her unique character.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Susan Albert

    Published during O'Keeffe's lifetime, this is the first of the artist's biographies. Lisle had the advantage of being able to interview "more than a hundred" people who knew O'Keeffe and were willing to talk about her. On the other hand, she had the disadvantage of writing an unauthorized biography of a living subject, which means that she had to tread delicately through a minefield of issues. (For an interesting take on what has been called a "suicidal" job, see this NYT article by biographer J Published during O'Keeffe's lifetime, this is the first of the artist's biographies. Lisle had the advantage of being able to interview "more than a hundred" people who knew O'Keeffe and were willing to talk about her. On the other hand, she had the disadvantage of writing an unauthorized biography of a living subject, which means that she had to tread delicately through a minefield of issues. (For an interesting take on what has been called a "suicidal" job, see this NYT article by biographer Janny Scott http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/11/22...) What's more, the full extent of Juan Hamilton's influence over O'Keeffe did not emerge until after her death and the probate of her will, some seven years after the publication of this book. Still, while Portrait of an Artist is not as revealing (or anti-iconographic) as other biographies, it is a very good read. Lisle is especially adept in dealing with O'Keeffe's early years and her place in the art world of the 1920s and 30s, and in the larger context of American culture. The book is easy to read, its narrative flow is compelling, and it continues to hold an authoritative place among O'Keeffe's other biographies. Readers should be aware that the book was slightly revised in 1997, and that the current ebook edition (as of 5.25.2017) is taken from that revision. However, the additions are surprisingly slender: I counted only six added paragraphs in the final chapter and a revision from present to past tense in the last section. (I did not compare the full book.) Lisle does not change her generally sympathetic view to Hamilton, and she slides past the controversy over O'Keeffe's will, treating it in the context of a disagreement with New Mexico museums. It seems likely that she has moved on and is content to let her early work stand, perhaps feeling that other biographers have adequately treated the artist's last years.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rita

    1980. This was written while O'Keeffe was still living, but is not an authorized biography. I read it to find out something about O'Keeffe [and because somebody had given me the book] since I had never known anything much about her life. Lisle, a journalist, tells a whole lot of facts, and observations and opinions she got from interviewing relatives and acquaintances of O'K. It's not a book to read for its literary value; it is not 'well written' but is serviceable. Lisle interjects quite a lot of 1980. This was written while O'Keeffe was still living, but is not an authorized biography. I read it to find out something about O'Keeffe [and because somebody had given me the book] since I had never known anything much about her life. Lisle, a journalist, tells a whole lot of facts, and observations and opinions she got from interviewing relatives and acquaintances of O'K. It's not a book to read for its literary value; it is not 'well written' but is serviceable. Lisle interjects quite a lot of her own interpretations and judgments, which is fine as you clearly know she is doing it. We hear a whole lot about husband Alfred Stieglitz which is just as interesting as what is told about O'Keeffe. What a neurotic man, but apparently with loads of charisma who attracted a very loyal following. Lisle sort of lets us speculate on the extent to which O'Keeffe's career/celebrity is due to Stieglitz's management. And also speculate on O'Keeffe's own conscious manipulation of her public image. Very interesting topics.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nina

    Very inspiring, not only for artists but also for women and anyone stubborn enough to go their own way in life.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    This is one of my favorite books. I didn’t want it to end. It felt like I got to know Georgia so well. Even if you’re not a artist or into art, this was such a powerful story of her life.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Budd

    “Portrait of an Artist – A Biography of Georgia O’Keeffe” by Laurie Lisle. I wanted to explore the creative process, to get a glimpse into how an artist thinks, feels, plans and executes. Georgia O’Keeffe transformed the way we understand the artistic endeavours of women. Her work was dramatic, full of colour and challenged the status quo. Recognized as the “Mother of American Modernism,” she was only twelve when she knew she would be an artist. And it seemed the universe complied with her wishe “Portrait of an Artist – A Biography of Georgia O’Keeffe” by Laurie Lisle. I wanted to explore the creative process, to get a glimpse into how an artist thinks, feels, plans and executes. Georgia O’Keeffe transformed the way we understand the artistic endeavours of women. Her work was dramatic, full of colour and challenged the status quo. Recognized as the “Mother of American Modernism,” she was only twelve when she knew she would be an artist. And it seemed the universe complied with her wishes, orchestrating the experiences, the mentors and connections that pushed her vision forward. Known for her flower canvases and south-western landscapes, she became one of America’s most significant and successful artists. Born in a Wisconsin farmhouse is 1887, she was a contemporary of Helen Keller (1880-1968), poet Edith Sitwell (1887-1964), writer Agatha Christie (1890 – 1976) and women’s activists Alice Paul (1885-1997) and Jeannette Rankin, (1880-1973).This was a time of opportunity for women, simply because they demanded a voice. Her journey from a small rural community to New York City to New Mexico is filled with a mixture of laughter, excitement, poignancy and acceptance. “I think it’s so foolish for people to want to be happy. Happy is so momentary–you’re happy for an instant and then you start thinking again. Interest is the most important thing in life; happiness is temporary, but interest is continuous.” Georgia O’Keeffe https://ontheroadbookclub.com/

  12. 5 out of 5

    Allyson

    This book seemed to go on forever. The author seemed to want to detail everything O'Keeffe had ever done and towards the end this resulted in a disintegration in coherence as the paragraphs became separate vignettes of little happenings. It almost started to feel like jotted down diary entries. What the writer did manage to get across was the beauty of O'Keeffe's paintings, their colour and their atmosphere. Georgia O'Keeffe was a very original painter for the eras in which she worked, with no t This book seemed to go on forever. The author seemed to want to detail everything O'Keeffe had ever done and towards the end this resulted in a disintegration in coherence as the paragraphs became separate vignettes of little happenings. It almost started to feel like jotted down diary entries. What the writer did manage to get across was the beauty of O'Keeffe's paintings, their colour and their atmosphere. Georgia O'Keeffe was a very original painter for the eras in which she worked, with no training in Europe like many of her male contemporaries, she produced abstracts and what was termed colour field painting before these became part of fashionable art theory. As a colourist she is about light and about capturing the striking tones in nature. Her personal life was complex and yet she was austere in life and in her work. Most tend to speak of her independence having come from her relationship with Stieglitz, but though he brought her monetary independence, she was an independent spirit way before she met him and more so after they started to live separate lives. The book provides an interesting overview of O'Keeffe's life, but it is also somewhat tedious and bitty.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Feisty Harriet

    In preparation for a to Santa Fe I wanted to read a few books about New Mexico and, particularly, about Georgia O’Keeffe. My first biography was a flop, but this one was well researched, meticulous, and beautiful. The author talks about her life, her training as an artist and how in her time period women were not ever considered painters (or artists) and O’Keeffe had a lot of obstacles to overcome before she was considered either a painter or an artist. I found myself taking notes in the margins In preparation for a to Santa Fe I wanted to read a few books about New Mexico and, particularly, about Georgia O’Keeffe. My first biography was a flop, but this one was well researched, meticulous, and beautiful. The author talks about her life, her training as an artist and how in her time period women were not ever considered painters (or artists) and O’Keeffe had a lot of obstacles to overcome before she was considered either a painter or an artist. I found myself taking notes in the margins, underlining, and adding my own thoughts to an index card I used as a bookmark. O’Keeffe painted for decades and maintained her position as a premier modern artist from the 1920′s to her death in 1986 at age 98. i loved reading about her art, her creative process, her relationships, her politics, her feminist ideas, I loved it all. I think this book made a particularly keen impression on me as towards the tail end of my reading J-Mo and I visited her studio and ranch near Abiquiu, NM and the Georgia O’Keeffe museum in Santa Fe.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Phyllis

    No matter what others may say about this book, no matter that Georgia O'Keeffe is an amazing artist and a groundbreaking independent woman before the word "feminist" had been coined, no matter what you may already know or not know about her - this book was tedious. The only reason I finished reading it was because it was for my book group. More like a term paper, a school report, or a newspaper article than a biography about what most people think of as a fascinating woman. She may have been fas No matter what others may say about this book, no matter that Georgia O'Keeffe is an amazing artist and a groundbreaking independent woman before the word "feminist" had been coined, no matter what you may already know or not know about her - this book was tedious. The only reason I finished reading it was because it was for my book group. More like a term paper, a school report, or a newspaper article than a biography about what most people think of as a fascinating woman. She may have been fascinating, but that doesn't come across in this book. The writing style was all "tell" and little to no "show." And the few photos included were so disappointing. First: they were in black & white and second: they didn't include any paintings. How can you publish a book about art without any photos of the art? If you must read this because this is the only thing about O'Keeffe you could find, you'll want to read it with access to the internet to refer to all the paintings, people, landscapes, and photos that are mentioned.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Samilja

    God, I love my sister-in-law who digs around dark nooks and finds little gems like this. Then she shares them! The last 1/3 of the book was a bit slow -- basically I think the author had trouble drumming up material on O'Keefe's life in New Mexico as the artist was ambivalent at best about this book being written and because, in NM, O'Keefe was no longer on the cultural radar the way she had been in New York, married to Alfred Stieglitz. The author's writing style is nothing spectacular, but O'Ke God, I love my sister-in-law who digs around dark nooks and finds little gems like this. Then she shares them! The last 1/3 of the book was a bit slow -- basically I think the author had trouble drumming up material on O'Keefe's life in New Mexico as the artist was ambivalent at best about this book being written and because, in NM, O'Keefe was no longer on the cultural radar the way she had been in New York, married to Alfred Stieglitz. The author's writing style is nothing spectacular, but O'Keefe, to me, was a super appealing individual. Quirky, not always likable, with amazing talent, drive, and discipline. I loved finding out about her.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    I dismissed O'Keeffe's work when I was much younger thinking it was all just flowers. I bought this book on a whim from a street vendor and it's taken me quite a while to read it. However, I am so immensely glad that I read it. I have so much admiration for O'Keeffe's personality and work ethic, brilliance, and independence now. She was so strong-willed at a time that it was not common for women to be so. Sincerely blown away. I am now genuinely interested in her complete body of work and has in I dismissed O'Keeffe's work when I was much younger thinking it was all just flowers. I bought this book on a whim from a street vendor and it's taken me quite a while to read it. However, I am so immensely glad that I read it. I have so much admiration for O'Keeffe's personality and work ethic, brilliance, and independence now. She was so strong-willed at a time that it was not common for women to be so. Sincerely blown away. I am now genuinely interested in her complete body of work and has inspired me to keep working and creating. I also adore her pelvis bone series.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Heather Ormsby

    Non-fiction always takes me a long time to slog through, but I'm glad I stuck it out and finished this one. I read it in order to prepare for a new book I bought of letters between Georgia and Stieglitz and wanted to know more about her history and life before tackling those. She was an amazing woman - very often misunderstood and hard to get a long with - but she could have cared less. For her, it was all about the art.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    O'Keefe lived for almost 100 years - nearly a third of the existence of the United States - and learning about her life, from the prarie to the South to New York and then to nearly 40 years Out West is a fascinating commentary on the very short history of this country...plus, she was way ahead of her time intellectually and I love her work!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Madeleine

    The writing is not exactly engaging, but O'Keefe's story is incredibly inspiring and keeps you reading. I gave up half-way, but plan to pick this book up again one day if I feel up for slogging through Lisle's dissertation-like prose. Or maybe not.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mandy

    The story is good, but the writing is dry.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    Good writer, Great topic being Georgia O'Keeffe. Unknown to me I learned a great deal about Alfred Stieglitz and his photographs.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kris

    While Georgia O'Keeffe led a fairly interesting life, the writing style was not nearly so interesting.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    An interesting biography, but the narrator of the audio version mispronounced the names of people, places and things.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Root_rambler

    This book was amazing. Not because of the writing (which was fine enough- it's a biography after all) but because of its subject, her dedication to art, and the amount it has inspired me. I would highly recommend all artists (or aspiring artists, or failed artists, or lapsed artists) pick this up. As another stubborn, direct, and outspoken Midwestern woman/artist (born 100 years and 15 miles from where O'Keeffe was born!) I felt a deep kinship with her. And one of the most inspiring things about This book was amazing. Not because of the writing (which was fine enough- it's a biography after all) but because of its subject, her dedication to art, and the amount it has inspired me. I would highly recommend all artists (or aspiring artists, or failed artists, or lapsed artists) pick this up. As another stubborn, direct, and outspoken Midwestern woman/artist (born 100 years and 15 miles from where O'Keeffe was born!) I felt a deep kinship with her. And one of the most inspiring things about her was that by the time she was my age (32), this is the sum total of what she had accomplished: 1. Graduated high school 2. Attended one year at the Art Institute of Chicago but got typhoid fever and was too weak to return in the fall. 2. Attended one year of the Art Students League in New York City (age 20) but her family fell into financial troubles and couldn't afford to send her for another year. 3. At ages 21-23, needed to make a living, abandoned the idea of being a painter, and worked in an ad agency drawing lace and embroidery. 4. Got the measles/was super depressed by her job and returned to her family 5. At 24, enrolled in a six-week summer drawing class that taught the fundamentals of abstraction. Her teacher helped her get a job even though she had no degree or teaching experience. 6. At 25-26, got a job teaching drawing in Amarillo, TX and fought against the required state drawing textbook. Came back to Charlottesville (where her family moved) to teach drawing in the summers. 7. At 27, went to the Columbia Teachers College in New York. Focused on art courses and ignored the non-art courses. 8. At 28 got a job at a teacher's college in South Carolina, which she took because it only required she teach 4 classes per week- she could spend the rest of the time painting. She did some abstract charcoal drawings and sent them to her friend in New York. Her friend shared them with an acclaimed photographer (Steiglitz) who ran a gallery. He liked them. 9. Halfway through the year in South Carolina got a teaching position in Texas for the summer. They wanted her to take an additional teaching methods course in New York. She quit the South Carolina job midyear. 10. Steiglitz decided to show her charcoal drawings without telling her. The show caused an uproar because she was just some female teacher & people were astounded. 11. At 28, Georgia returned to Texas for a job at West Texas State Normal College. She wrote often with Steiglitz. Steiglitz gave her her first solo show, which she went to see. 12. She turned 30! And took a "leave of absence" from her job due to "the flu" but she may have been forced from her job due to her antiwar sentiment. 13. Steiglitz urged her to return to New York and sent a friend to collect her. 14. She returned to New York. Steiglitz (24 years older than her) gave her a place to stay. They fell in love and he soon moved in with her. His wife got angry (duh) and he started divorce proceedings. 15. Georgia painted. Steiglitz photographed her. So, basically by my age, she half-finished a bunch of education (through no fault of her own), half-assed a bunch of short-term teaching jobs all over the country while being her opinionated, difficult self, had one solo show, fell in love with an old married guy and shacked up with him, and began to paint full-time in earnest. And she went on to be the greatest female artist of her era (at a time when women just didn't become artists). It was definitely a key tactical move to fall in love with an acclaimed male photographer/gallery owner, but the amount of grit and determination she showed throughout the book awed and inspired me. So... at 32, maybe I'm not doing so badly after all?

  25. 4 out of 5

    Shoshannah Hausmann

    The book is good. The problem is the narrator. I listened to the audio version of this book while on a New Mexico road trip. I repeatedly screamed at the air when the narrator mispronounced names, words and places or simply misread the text. For example she read that GOK painted in her car “30 by 40 foot canvases” WTF!!!??? You mean inches? And she repeatedly mispronounced Diego Rivera’s name and Frida Kahlo too. And numerous other words - like “tors” instead of “torso”. It drove me CRAZY. Eithe The book is good. The problem is the narrator. I listened to the audio version of this book while on a New Mexico road trip. I repeatedly screamed at the air when the narrator mispronounced names, words and places or simply misread the text. For example she read that GOK painted in her car “30 by 40 foot canvases” WTF!!!??? You mean inches? And she repeatedly mispronounced Diego Rivera’s name and Frida Kahlo too. And numerous other words - like “tors” instead of “torso”. It drove me CRAZY. Either the narrator needed a better editor or she should never have been hired to read a text. Too bad bc she has a nice voice and a fancy accent. She ruined this book and I would not recommend it - try another version.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jean Carlton

    This book was recommended to prepare for a trip to Santa Fe where I will visit the O'Keefe Museum. Told to start with Chapter 8, about her life in New Mexico, I thought I'd just start at the beginning. I became disillusioned about the writer's authenticity with stories like Georgia, before the age of one, being jealous that others got more attention than she did. So I did go to Chap 8 but found my interest was not strong enough to read word for word. I skimmed the rest of the book and did get a This book was recommended to prepare for a trip to Santa Fe where I will visit the O'Keefe Museum. Told to start with Chapter 8, about her life in New Mexico, I thought I'd just start at the beginning. I became disillusioned about the writer's authenticity with stories like Georgia, before the age of one, being jealous that others got more attention than she did. So I did go to Chap 8 but found my interest was not strong enough to read word for word. I skimmed the rest of the book and did get a general idea of the arc of her life. Will seek other books about her, and her work, to see if there is something I find more readable.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Annie Oosterwyk

    A very solid biography, that is thoroughly researched. Lisle portrays Georgia as someone who always knew who she was and what she wanted, in her uncompromising desire to create art. Georgia's early life in Wisconsin, her years teaching in Texas, and her relationship with Stieglitz are described in great detail, along with her relationships with family and friends. I especially enjoyed hearing about Georgia's process. The way she would become inspired to paint, but bring such organization to her A very solid biography, that is thoroughly researched. Lisle portrays Georgia as someone who always knew who she was and what she wanted, in her uncompromising desire to create art. Georgia's early life in Wisconsin, her years teaching in Texas, and her relationship with Stieglitz are described in great detail, along with her relationships with family and friends. I especially enjoyed hearing about Georgia's process. The way she would become inspired to paint, but bring such organization to her painting. She kept careful notes for color mixing and her attention to detail in all things was legendary. She had a prickly personality, and a big one.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Laurel

    I really enjoyed this book! I love reading about strong and successful women in times when it wasn’t common. She acknowledges that she got a lot of help (from men) to be seen, and that it’s almost completely chance when artists are discovered. Having known one extremely successful retired artist, and many other similarly talented unsuccessful artists (same with musicians), I agree with her. I don’t much care for the art of Georgia O’Keeffe but like her feistiness. Yeah she was selfish, but I thi I really enjoyed this book! I love reading about strong and successful women in times when it wasn’t common. She acknowledges that she got a lot of help (from men) to be seen, and that it’s almost completely chance when artists are discovered. Having known one extremely successful retired artist, and many other similarly talented unsuccessful artists (same with musicians), I agree with her. I don’t much care for the art of Georgia O’Keeffe but like her feistiness. Yeah she was selfish, but I think selfishness is a perfectly reasonable attribute. I call it self-care. I am curious if she is would have continued her career had she had children.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I didn't completely love this book, however I did love learning more about this trailblazing artist. The author seemed to make her own judgments and interpretations about certain things but then none about others, and I was left wondering and wanting more. For example, I had read in other places that she had lovers and relationships other than her husband, and in this book I saw no mention of those. So, while I enjoyed this book and reading about this very interesting artist, especially her youn I didn't completely love this book, however I did love learning more about this trailblazing artist. The author seemed to make her own judgments and interpretations about certain things but then none about others, and I was left wondering and wanting more. For example, I had read in other places that she had lovers and relationships other than her husband, and in this book I saw no mention of those. So, while I enjoyed this book and reading about this very interesting artist, especially her younger years, and the context of the America she grew up in, I feel as though I am left with an incomplete picture of her.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sep

    My copy was published in 1980 and I understand that there were additions made after O'Keeffe died in 1986. Ms. Lisle writes in a well-organized and pleasant style that is informative without being dull. Anecdotes spice the expository and it is easy to keep track of all the threads. It was only in the last few years that I discovered that Georgia O'Keeffe painted something besides the desert. Her years in Virginia, New York City and Lake George are. well-researched and rich in detail. What emerges My copy was published in 1980 and I understand that there were additions made after O'Keeffe died in 1986. Ms. Lisle writes in a well-organized and pleasant style that is informative without being dull. Anecdotes spice the expository and it is easy to keep track of all the threads. It was only in the last few years that I discovered that Georgia O'Keeffe painted something besides the desert. Her years in Virginia, New York City and Lake George are. well-researched and rich in detail. What emerges was a prickly, often brusk, woman who let nothing stand in the way of her art.

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