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Archive: Other Books > Georgia: A Novel of Georgia O'Keeffe by Dawn Tripp - 5 stars

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message 1: by Nicole R (last edited Feb 24, 2016 07:49PM) (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7710 comments Georgia: A Novel of Georgia O'Keeffe by Dawn Tripp
5 stars

I readily admit that I do not know much about art. But, I do know what I like and I have always been a fan of Georgia O'Keeffe's work. Her larger than life flowers are bold and sensual, her southwestern landscapes are desolate yet vibrant. But, I do not know much about O'Keeffe's life. Thankfully, Dawn Tripp remedied that.

Georgia tell the story of the early professional life of O'Keeffe. In 1915, she was closing in on 30 and painting abstracts in her spare time after teaching art at a Texas school when she sends some of her work to famed photographer and art promoter Alfred Stieglitz in New York City. Stieglitz was an instant fan of her work and Georgia couldn't help but fall in love with the man 23 years her senior (who eventually took some of the most famous photos of Georgia).

O'Keeffe grows as an artist -- and a woman -- under the tutelage of Stieglitz. Her abstracts morph to flowers then cityscapes then southwest landscapes and her love life simultaneously morphs from all-consuming to comfortable to self-destructive to convenient over the roughly 20 years portrayed in the book, which covers O'Keeffe's most prolific time as an artist.

I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about O'Keeffe. She was an interesting, often difficult, and undeniably talented woman. I had absolutely no idea that her husband was her art manager and also wildly famous himself. Their relationship was tumultuous to say the least. The people that are mentioned in the books as her contemporaries (whether they actually met or not) is an impressive list including Picasso and Ansel Adams.

There are two aspects I particularly appreciated. First, Georgia O'Keeffe was a feminist by any definition of the word. She craved recognition for her art that did not try and cast her as a female stereotype or frame her success in the shadow of Stieglitz. Her flower series are undeniably erotic and yet she did not want to be described in sexual terms. She wanted women everyone to embrace who they were and strive the be the best version of themselves. This feminist persona conflicted directly with her philandering husband whom she spent decades letting control her moods and work. It was such an interesting juxtaposition between how she wanted to be seen, how people saw her, and how she personally felt.

Secondly, the descriptions of O'Keeffe's work instantly brought them to my mind while reading. Black Iris (perhaps my favorite of her works), the skulls in the southwest desert, even the iconic photos by Stieglitz of her hands all came to mind as Tripp described the artistic process and how O'Keeffe was inspired.

Holding me back from bestowing this with the label of favorite is that, as much as I enjoyed it, I could not help but compare it to books by Paula McClain. While Tripp is off to a fantastic start, she has work to do to catch up with McClain.

Black Iris:

Skull in the Southwest:

O'Keeffe photo by Stieglitz:

message 2: by Linda C (new)

Linda C (libladynylindac) | 1053 comments I am adding this to my TBR pile. Sounds good and I love her work!

message 3: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7710 comments I hope you enjoy it, Linda! I listened to it on audio and it was well done.

message 4: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 5641 comments This title has been popping up in several book blogs. Glad to read your review. I do love art, and greatly appreciate O'Keefe's work. On the tbr it goes!

message 5: by Jgrace (last edited Feb 26, 2016 07:38AM) (new)

Jgrace | 2760 comments Portrait of an Artist A Biography of Georgia O'Keeffe by Laurie Lisle

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

I read this biography years ago after seeing an exhibit of her work. It was very informative, if a little dry. I'm looking forward to this novel.

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