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5.0 out of 5 stars Well selected, beautifully reproduced illustrations, 29 Jun. 2013
Dr R (Norwich, UK) - See all my reviews
There are a great many books about Georgia O'Keeffe but this one, published in 2006, is very competitive. It contains 96 illustrations, almost 70 paintings reproduced in excellent colour, the remainder bring black and white contemporary photographs of the artist, Alfred Stieglitz and the landscapes and objects that stimulated her imagination.

The focus is on "The New York Decade, 1918-28", "Flowers" and "The Southwest Years". Each section contains an informative essay and the works selected are accompanied by short texts. There is also an Introduction and an Index.

The Introduction considers O'Keeffe's artistic development through her periods as Art Student, Art Teacher and Artist. Wright emphasises the critical reassessment of her work that the artist conducted in 1915 as a result of which she destroyed all her early work. This was not only a loss of the paintings themselves but makes it difficult to identify the influences under which these early works were created and leaves a gap in the record of what she painted in New York in 1905 and in Amarillo, Texas, 7 years later. Since O'Keeffe constantly returned, almost obsessively, to a small number of subjects and themes, such as those in this book, over her long career the absence of her early works is of great significance to 20th century American art scholarship and history.

The artist's period in New York is evaluated through the perspectives of her Abstractionism, Lake George Landscapes and New York Skyscrapers. The artist's very popular Flower paintings are addressed in terms of their Patterns, Details, Magnification and Colour. Finally, the works that O'Keeffe completed during her various periods in the Southwest region are considered from the perspectives of Bones, Landscape, Architecture and Sky.

Whilst there is often a tendency for the same, or very similar, works to be included in books about this artist, the selection chosen for this book, all from the Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation, complement the text and include many less familiar works within her overall group of very recognisable motifs.

The book makes very clear the relationship between the artist's landscape paintings, for example "Purple Hills near Abiquiu", 1935, and "Black Hills with Cedar, New Mexico", 1941, and the soft contours of the female body as photographed by Stieglitz in his many hundreds of intimate print of O'Keeffe's body. Stieglitz (being a man?) did nothing to play down these associations and indeed encouraged them, but O'Keeffe "continued to insist that her paintings should be able to speak for themselves". Works such as "Spring", 1922, and "Bear Lake (Desert Abstraction)", 1931, reinforce the claim that O'Keeffe was America's earliest painter of abstraction.

The author emphasises the similarities between many of O'Keeffe's New York scenes and her natural landscapes, including the "underlying construction of split verticals and mirrored fragments" which is very evident in "New York with Moon", 1925, and "The Shelton with Sunspots" painted a year later. The soot-grey expanse of "East River Drive No. 1", 1926, surprisingly small for such a panorama seen from the Shelton, may have been a response to being told that the idea of such a painting was impossible "since not even the men had done too well with the subject".

Amongst the Flower paintings, Wright includes an early watercolour of a "Red Canna", c. 1919, Flower Abstraction", 1924, "Pink Tulip", 1926, "Yellow Hickory Leaves with Daisy", 1928, and "Apple Blossoms", 1930, all of which emphasise her belief that "colour makes life worth living".

The works from her years in the Southwest show the artist painting abstracted squares, as in "Wall with Green Door', 1952, and becoming more minimalist, for example "Pelvis with Blue (Pelvis I)", 1944, "It was Blue and Green", 1960, and "Sky above White Clouds I", 1962.

As happens frequently in my experience, in this book textural descriptions and discussions relating to a specific work are often positioned on different pages and it is frustrating to have to hunt for one or the other. If the individual plates/illustrations were numbered and then cited in the text it would make this process much easier and quicker.

This is both a very good introduction to the artist and a useful complement to the many books and catalogues of O'Keeffe's work.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Varied artwork some I had never seen, desert, buildings etc. Well presented and informative, 19 July 2013
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This review is from: Georgia O'Keeffe: An Eternal Spirit (Todtri Art) (Hardcover)
Art teacher at afternoon class had a copy and I had seen all of the flower paintings but this had a good selection of her other works, buildings, desert, skulls and informative write ups
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Georgia O'Keeffe: An Eternal Spirit (Todtri Art)
Georgia O'Keeffe: An Eternal Spirit (Todtri Art) by Susan Wright (Hardcover - 1 Oct. 1996)
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