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Portrait of an Artist Paperback – 1 Oct 1997

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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press; Rev Upd Su edition (1 Oct. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671016660
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671016661
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 3.4 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,253,963 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

About the Author

In addition to Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O'Keeffe, Laurie Lisle is the author of two books: Without Child: Challenging the Stigma of Childlessness and Louise Nevelson: A Passionate Life. She lectures widely on O'Keeffe and writes essays, articles and book reviews for various publications. Lisle lives with her husband in northwestern Connecticut and Westchester County, New York.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
LATE IN THE AUTUMN OF 1887, THE SUN PRAIRIE Countryman, a rural Wisconsin newspaper, briefly noted that a baby girl had arrived two days before on Tuesday, November 15, in the farmhouse of Ida and Francis O'Keeffe. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. Wedell on 13 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I discovered Georgia O'keeffe when I was growing up in San Francisco and was drawn to her vibrant colors and soft flowery, feminine forms. I had no real idea who she was, or anything about her remarkable story until I read her biography in Portrait of An Artist.

This is a wonderful glimpse of the very early New York art scene and a fascinating vision of "Out West", New Mexico in the 30's 40's and 50's when Georgia O'keeffe first visited then moved out there. The descriptions are so beautiful, all I can think about is getting out there to see for myself.

The greatest part of this book is the detailed description of the life, habits and thought patterns of this pioneering and spirited woman - she was a bona-fide trailblazer for future generations of women artists and successful women in general.

My Swedish great grandmother emigrated to the US from Sweden when she 16 years old, all by herself with her little brother, and I recognized that same brave and gorgeous spirit in Georgia O'keeffe. I love stories of fiercely independent women doing their thing no matter what anyone else thinks or says.

I came away from this read fully grasping, once and for all, that abstract art, is by no means avant-garde, or radical ! A lot of people still react to abstract art as if it were way "out there" in the left field of daring experimentation. And yet It goes way, way back. Georgia O'keeffe was one of the greatest and earliest of it's advocates starting in 1918!

The book isn't brilliantly written, okay, it's even a little flat, but the story, is so exceptional, it more than makes up for the writing.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By harikrishna on 21 April 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
good story
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 39 reviews
48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
A Portrait That the Artist Would Have Enjoyed 30 Aug. 2007
By Laura Cohen - Published on
Format: Paperback
When author Laurie Lisle advised the artist, Georgia O'Keeffe, that hers was a story Lisle "wanted to tell," O'Keeffe, as was her wont, elected not to participate but told Lisle, "you are welcome to what you find." ("Forward and Acknowledgments.") Lisle, equipped with a passion for her subject and steadfastness of purpose - qualities similar to those governing O'Keeffe's own work and life - pored through museum bulletins and exhibition catalogue notes, magazine and newspaper articles, memoirs about O'Keeffe's artistic peers (including her husband, photographer Alfred Stieglitz), and O'Keeffe's letters preserved in Yale's Beinecke Rare Book Library. She spoke with O'Keeffe's schoolmates, in-laws, and friends. And, of course, she viewed O'Keeffe's creations.

There is not one spot of color in this book except for the auburn and gold lettering on the jacket of my paperback. The sixteen pages of photographs in the book, only four of which show O'Keeffe posing with her art, are black-and-white. One imagines, had the artist participated in this project and accepted that a literary work, with an artist as its subject, could be as beautiful and fascinating as the flowers, skulls, rivers, and stones she captured in her own paintings, O'Keeffe would have appreciated the lack of color. For much of her life, O'Keeffe's signature garb was black with a touch of white, due to a belief that admirers ought to focus on the art, not the artist.

While reading this book, one obviously is tempted to take occasional breaks from Lisle's gorgeously plain, non-effusive prose to google O'Keeffe's paintings. After I read about O'Keeffe's initiation into the jet age, where she was surprised to peer down from her airplane window and "see so many rivers, tributaries, and deltas undulating through the earth's deserts" ("Chapter 13: Clouds"), I just had to view "It Was Red and Pink." However, this book clearly is not an art critique. Paintings are discussed insofar as they provide insight into O'Keeffe's mind, heart, and soul. Most of the time, while reading, I stayed far away from the computer. I was riveted by tales about family, femininity, marriage, the artist's apparent struggle between remaining dedicated to painting and perhaps having a baby, the conflict between how she and the public perceived her work, intimations of mortality, and a devotion to the splendors of New Mexico even after her eyesight failed.

I would recommend this book to anyone who relishes art, history, New Mexico, femininism, humanity, or just would love to read a great book.
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
great book 28 Aug. 2007
By ga ga for books - Published on
Format: Unbound
For so many years to me, Georgia O'Keeffe was just a well-known woman artist who painted flowers. Thanks to this book I came away feeling that I got to truly know and admire this artist and now I can look at her pictures differently with a deeper understanding and appreciation for them. Thanks to this book I think I have learned to look at the beauty in nature in a different way and feel that this book has taught me much about people and truly opened my eyes in many ways to the world around me and made me curious about different areas of our wonderful country. Very enlightening in many ways and definitely worth reading.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Portait of an artist - in living color 27 May 2008
By J Martin Jellinek - Published on
Format: Paperback
Portrait of an Artist is just that - a portrait of a powerful, unique artist. Refreshingly, for those of us who have an interest in art and some knowledge but are not familiar with technicalities, the book is very direct and honest. One comes away with the feeling they have met and experienced a fascinating woman - one who is not always pleasant and kind, but one who is always open and honest. Her art is used as a lens into her deepest feelings, although the only representations of her art are in photographs where she is posing in front of one of her paintings. Her devotion to her art was inspiring, although it seemed to overwhelm everything and everyone that surrounded her. I walk away from this book very glad to have met and experienced Georgia O'Keeffe, but also glad to have experienced her from a distance and not had to endure her intensity personally. This is a great compliment for a fascinating book.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Portrait of An Artist: A Biography of Georgia O'Keeffe by Laurie Lisle 28 July 2010
By P. Soule - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Our reading group all picked a different biography and we discussed our choices at our last meeting. Portrait of An Artist: A Biography of Georgia O'Keeffe was my pick. This was an interesting and easy read that often revealed O'Keeffe's multi- faceted personality and artistic nature and work. I found the black and white photos of O'Keeffe, many of which were taken by her mentor and husband Stieglitz, often as revealing as Laurie Lisle's words. The bio reveals the artist from birth in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, in 1887 to her death in Taos, New Mexico in 1986.

It's not a perfect portrait as the author seems to impose her own opinions/guesses on why the artist reacted or thought certain things. But it was a good overview of her career and life. O'Keeffe valued privacy and freedom in her life. She was an accepted and successful artist at a time when many felt only men could be accomplished artists. Lisle's biography hightlights the fact that O'Keeffe wasn't a perfect person but that what mattered to her most was her art. I wish some of O'Keeffe's paintings had been included in the bio since the artist herself said that her life wasn't the important thing. It was her art that mattered.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
From Wisconsin to New Mexico: An incredible life. 24 Sept. 2003
By Peggy Vincent - Published on
Format: Hardcover
There are parts of New Mexico that, if you know of the woman, just scream This is Georgia O'Keeffe Country. This honest and admiring biography lays out the story of this incredible woman who lived to age 99. That's a long, long, long life. Her life found its trajectory when, in 1916, a friend sent some of her drawings to renowned photographer Alfred Stieglitz. He proclaimed her to be "a woman on paper." Furious (as only O'Keeffe could be furious), she confronted him, became his lover, and eventually married him, initiating an emotional and artistic collaboration that endured until his death.
O'Keeffe became a feminist before the word was even invented. When she realized that it would be impossible to become her own person while working in his shadow, she established the pattern of spending 6 months with him in NY and 6 months on her own in New Mexico, a place she always referred to as her spiritual home. Stiegitz died in 1946, and O'Keeffe lived on for another incredible half a century.
If you have the opportunity to visit New Mexico, don't miss the O'Keeffe museum in Santa Fe - and my all means visit her home in Abiqueque. To say it's Georgia O'Keeffe country is to put it far too mildly.
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