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Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O'Keeffe
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Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O'Keeffe

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3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  941 ratings  ·  59 reviews
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 bo
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Hardcover, 408 pages
Published December 15th 1986 by University of New Mexico Press (first published March 1st 1980)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,598)
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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 ...more
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.
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
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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
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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 ...more
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.
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!
Kathy
Good writer, Great topic being Georgia O'Keeffe. Unknown to me I learned a great deal about Alfred Stieglitz and his photographs.
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 ...more
Bea
This was a straight-forward biography of an interesting life. The author kind of jumped around a bit, not sticking to strict chronological order, which bothered me a little. Overall a good easy read though.

Sticklers should note it was published before O'Keeffe's death so that is not included.

I also wish there had been some photos of her work included. Luckily now there is the internet so I could google individual works when they were discussed.
Rachel
This was pretty badly (or simply) written -- think 5th grade book report -- but the subject was so rich it almost didn't matter. I loved reading this.

Regardless of how you feel about her art, this woman lived her life in a really ballsy freaking way. Her biography read like a spiritual text, a plainly spoken reminder that life can be long, there is more than one way to live, and you should live it the one way you can.

In real life she seemed like a real pain to know, so I don't want to glamoriz
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Carol
I bought this book when it came out in 1980 and now 30 years later I finally read it. Originally I purchased it because I knew she was a part of Stieglitz life and I thought he was great. Originally I thought that she was just a lucky person to have Stieglitz promote her work and that was why she was successful. After reading the book, I have a new appreciation for her as an artist but found her personality irritating. She was born in 1887, the year the woman's right to vote was defeated. Yet sh ...more
Dana
There is much to admire about Georgia O' Keefe. At a time when women were expected to fall into their roles as wives and mothers, O'Keefe was her own person. She lived life on her own terms, and didn't care who didn't like it. Great biography!!
Luvin
There is no telling what type of art Georgia would have produced had she been born in 1950. After reading this book I couldn't help but feel sorry for this woman who struggled with a 21st century mind trapped in a 20th century world.
John Winkworth
I found this to be a well-written, thorough presentation of Georgia O'Keeffe's long and fascinating life. I particularly enjoyed the sections of the book on her life in New Mexico. If you are at all a tad bit curious about her, this book will not disappoint you.
Buff Brewster
Laurie Lisle did an extraordinary job of researching O'Keeffe and telling a cohesive and objective story of this woman's life! What an extraordinary subject - I hated for the biography to end.
Dominique
The writing is plain at times even a hindrance. Nevertheless one comes away with a greater understanding of who Georgia O'Keeffe was and a profound admiration for her devotion to art. I had not realized that female artists were unheard of, nor the difficulty of some of the choices and sacrifices she made to be an artist. I came away with a certain distaste for her husband. I may now look at books which focus on Ghost Ranch or the later period of her life. Bottom line: worth reading for the amoun ...more
Troy Williams
I became aware of Georgia O'Keeffe through her art but became fascinated by her character and personality. What a fascinating life she led. It is admirable when a person follows their own path. She was a woman who had the courage to not follow the convention of her time and to do what she thought was important. I am drawn to stories of people who seen as provocative and some would say eccentric. A very interesting read. Well researched and it appears to give at least a flavor of the personality ...more
Mii
Great book!
Celia
The book is not an exciting or dramatic book-some of the lack of drama may be the sort of life Georgia O'Keefe lived rather than the book itself.

Until I read this book, I did not realize how difficult it was for both women and American trained artists to be accepted by the art establishment.

In contrast to some other reviewers, I found her life more interesting after her husband died and she becomes a successful artist. She becomes more the way I think of Georgia O'Keefe.
Patricia
This book really piqued my interest in Georgia O'Keefe. It was made less enjoyable by reference to so many works and photographs that were not represented in the photographs, and that all the pictures were black and white. I will look for other works about her. Her story has given me courage to just live my life and not worry about what others think; most people are comfortable within a very small frame of reference and will criticize and judge anyone who ventures beyond.
Christym
The story of a fascinating life. So well written. I was only mildly interested in the artist before I started this biography. But, Lisle's writing drew me in and held me through the end.
J. Oshi
I read this book in my senior year in high school and was intrigued by Georgia O'Keefe's life. Since then, I've read many, many more books about her life, art, and romances. This book is a very comprehensive look at her youth, adolescence, schooling, the love of her life (Alfred Stieglitz), and of course her art: its expression, medium, and themes.

If you like art, New Mexico, New York, and women beyond their times, this is a book for you.
Elizabeth Hickey
Very amazing and thoroughly-researched.
Diana
I enjoyed learning about O'Keefe and her husband, the famous art photographer, Stieglitz. The book is thoroughly researched, and fairly well-written. O'Keefe lived into her 90's, so it is a long story, and it sometimes felt repetitive. I would have loved for the book to have examples of the artwork that was described--I ended up going to the library to look at art books. Overall, it was a pretty engrossing read.
i spy fred
I wanted to know more about the enigmatic Georgia O'Keeffe after a recent trip to Santa Fe. While not terribly compelling in its writing style, this book is a thorough biography of the timeline of the artist's life. Her unique personality does emerge and with it a better understanding of a legendary talent and a person whom can easily be said to have led an exceptional life.
Lydia
At least insomnia is good for finishing books.
Bridgette Guerzon Mills
I have always been drawn to Georgia O'Keefe's paintings, but never knew much about her. I understand a lot more about this woman and her art now. She was one tough woman. It was inspiring to read about her life and how she paved the way for other women artists in future generations. Even if it was not her intent.
Cheryl
Interesting, but there was way too much detail. The author seemed to feel the need to include every single bit of information she discovered.
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Laurie Lisle began her professional life as a journalist then became a biographer before writing about more personal matters in her latest books.

She lives in the village of Sharon, Connecticut, along with her husband, artist Robert Kipniss. When she is not writing or reading, she is hiking or working in her flower garden.

She wrote the first biographies of two women artists, Georgia O'Keeffe an
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More about Laurie Lisle...
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