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200 × 130 × 17 mm
256 pages
40 illustrations
01 Aug 2015
Critical Lives
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Georgia O’Keeffe Nancy J. Scott

Georgia O’Keeffe, the most famous woman artist of American modernism and a pioneer in shaping abstract art, had a fiercely independent vision. In her work she created a discrete and intense world, blending the abstract with the real in interpretations of the grandeur of the high desert and of flowers, bones, shells, rocks and landscapes – her hallmark subjects. A world also formed around O’Keeffe herself, from the iconic photographic nude studies of her by Alfred Stieglitz to the images of her in her later years, taken in the magnificent landscapes of New Mexico.

This book is a sensitive and incisive examination of O’Keeffe’s groundbreaking works, their evolution, and how their reception has been caught in conflicts between O’Keeffe’s inner self and her public persona. It follows the young artist as her early abstract charcoal landscapes caught the attention of gallery impresario Stieglitz, and tells the story of their partnership, of Stieglitz’s nudes and the development of O’Keeffe’s reputation as a sexually inspired, Freudian-minded artist.

Unique to this biography is the use of O’Keeffe’s letters – which have only recently been made available – as source material. The artist’s words are shown to be just as revelatory as her paintings. The result is a succinct yet comprehensive account of the long life and fertile body of work of one of the most important artists of the twentieth century.

‘Nancy J. Scotts thoroughly researched biography steers its way through the theories, putting them firmly in their historical place. It adopts a straightforward, measured approach to OKeeffes life and work, frequently using the artists own words drawn from her voluminous correspondence.’ — The Art Newspaper

‘Nancy Scotts thoroughly researched book on Georgia OKeeffe reads like a novel. Using the artists own words to bring her alive, Scott offers a fresh perspective on the painters life and work within the context of world events. This introduction to one of the twentieth centurys most influential American artists should appeal to novice and scholar alike.’ — Lisa Mintz Messinger, former curator at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and author of Stieglitz and His Artists: Matisse to OKeeffe (2011).

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Nancy Scott is Professor of Fine Arts at Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachussetts. She has taught and published on twentieth-century American modernism with a focus on O’Keeffe, Stieglitz and the artists of his circle.

Introduction: Pioneer, Independent Spirit, Visionary

1. Family Untied: An Artistic Education

2. Breakthrough: ‘Charcoal Landscapes’

3. Painting in Canyon: ‘Between Heaven and Earth’

4. A Portrait: Woman

5. New York: ‘The Nimbus of Lustre’

6. New Mexico: ‘I Feel Like Bursting’

7. The Great Depression: New York and Lake George

8. Ghost Ranch

9. Sky Above Clouds

Epilogue: Ancient Spirit


Select Bibliography


Photo Acknowledgements