Episode 110: Georgia O’Keeffe

Posted 12 August 2018 by
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The line between Georgia O’Keeffe’s childhood in Wisconsin to her death nearly 100 years later is as jagged, complex, colorful, unique, ever- changing and interesting as the vistas outside her final New Mexico homes.

Georgia’s “White Place” in NM. via wikicommons

Georgia Totto O’Keeffe was born on November 15, 1887 in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. Her childhood on a dairy farm, the second of the seven children of Frank and Ida O’Keeffe, was extraordinary in its ordinariness. She played with dolls, did farm chores, went to school. Her mother was the daughter of a Hungarian Count (who ran away from Hungary, then ran back abandoning his wife and daughters in Wisconsin.) Ida made sure that her daughters had art lessons and even when the family moved to the (promised) healthier environs of Williamsburg, Virginia, Georgia’s parents made sure that their children were educated as well as their dwindling income would allow.

Georgia knew at a young age that she wanted to pursue art farther than a proper ladies’ hobby, and attended the Art Institute in Chicago and then the prestigious Art Students’ League in New York City. She spent time as a commercial artist, then several years teaching – but none was satisfying (although it did feed her and keep her in black dresses and sensible shoes.) It wasn’t until she had a style breakthrough when she was about 30 that her future started to come into focus.

She had sent some of her charcoal drawings to a friend in New York who, against Georgia’s wishes, showed them to gallery owner, art photographer, champion of the emerging modern artist, (and not much of a monogamist, if we’re being honest), Alfred Stieglitz, who realized that he was looking at a special talent.

Her breakthrough to a style that was uniquely her own took Georgia from this…

Untitled -University of Virginia, 1914

…to this.

 

Working Title: Drawing XIII, 1915, Museum of Modern Art

After Georgia quit teaching and moved to New York as a full time artist, Alfred Stieglitz became her mentor, her marketer, her motivator and her man…her fella…her lover…which would have been way cooler if he wasn’t already married with a kid.

Alfred Stieglitz, Library of Congress

Before women could even vote in the United States, Georgia was creating the flowers (which suggested, to some viewers, “female anatomy”) that she first became known for. Georgia, however, was painting *flowers*, not vulvas.

Red Canna, 1919, High Museum of Art

Georgia’s style was a perfect fit for the era when convention was being tossed out the window and women were beginning to exert their independence; she was the right artist at the right time. She was the first female abstract painter, the first female artist to get a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and her paintings made her a very wealthy woman,

Blue and Green Music, 1919-1921, (or cabbage being cut by a very sharp knife) Art Institute of Chicago.

Alfred and Georgia lived together, created art together, made Georgia very famous in the art world together, and, eventually, got married. Georgia wanted to travel, Alfred did not…so she traveled. On a trip to New Mexico Georgia fell in love…with the area.

Georgia’s life, and her art, can be divided into four very distinctive parts:
Childhood
Teaching
Professional Artist and Alfred’s partner
New Mexico

When Alfred died in 1946, Georgia was almost 60. For the last FORTY years of her life she really didn’t slow down, she was too busy painting skulls, bones and mesas; too busy traveling the world; too busy doing whatever the hell she wanted whenever the hell she wanted however the hell she wanted.

(We love her.)

Georgia O’Keefe died on March 6, 1986 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, but her art and her legacy are still very, very much alive.

 

Time Travel with the History Chicks

Books!

There are A LOT of biographies for Georgia out in the world, but we narrowed them down to three that we can recommend (not saying that the others aren’t good, these are just the ones we liked.)

The big one…as in REALLY heavy. By Roxana Robinson

 

Now you see why Susan tripped over his name, right? By Hunter Drohojowska-Philp

 

 

The one that reads like we talk. By Karen Karbo

 

For kids, by Philip Brooks

 

For little kids, a nice introduction. By Jeanette Winter.

 

Web!

There seems to be quite a lot going on at the Georgia O’Keefe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico (if you go, can you ask them to make a virtual tour? We love a good virtual tour.)

Georgia’s beloved Ghost Ranch is also open with tours and programs.

Georgia’s art is all over the place, you can find some at Museum of Modern Art in NY City, The Art Institute Museum in Chicago, and the honkin’ big poisonous Jimson Weed at Crystal Bridges Museum of Modern Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Art explained by a scene from Ferris Bueller in the Art Institute Museum in Chicago and here is a list of Georgia’s pieces in that same museum!

Our friends the Bowery Boys podcast on the Armory Art Show of 1913 (episode#147)

We never did decide how we felt about John (Juan) Hamilton, but here’s an article from Harper’s Bizarre about him, see what you think.

Georgia made an appearance on The Simpsons and a crazy inappropriate scene in Family Guy (that we aren’t going to embed the video, but here ya go…we said inappropriate, right?)

Anita Pollitzer and the Jewish Women’s Archive (a great place to tumble into a Rabbit Hole) and the podcast that they produce is called Can We Talk? 

And our Pinterest board for this episode! (We have one for every woman that we cover!)

Movies!

 

There is only one and it focuses on the relationship between Georgia and Alfred–we thought the acting was very good but the story need more oomph. 

And, finally, this is like Beckett’s beloved Fisher-Price village (which only makes sense if you’ve listened to the show.)

And we can’t yet find the episode of Psychobitches with Georgia, but here’s the IMDB page and if you can find it, send us a link at chicks@thehistorychicks.com!

Special thanks to  Beauty by Design and Blue Apron for sponsoring this episode, and very special thanks for those of you who use promo code CHICKS to get specials at both.

Episode 109: Grace O’Malley

Posted 21 July 2018 by
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Gráinne Ui Mháille, Grainne, Granuaile, Gráinne MhaolGrace, That Irish Pirate Queen From the 16th Century…whatever you call her, her life and legacy as a strong, independent, bold, fearless (and yes, criminal) woman doesn’t change.

Statue at Westport House, Co Mayo, Ireland

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Episode 108: The Statue of Liberty

Posted 30 June 2018 by
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She’s neither alive nor dead; she exists but has never taken a breath; her innards are as hard as steel, but just the sight of her has brought men to grateful, hopeful tears. The Statue of Liberty is a she, which makes her fair game for one of our conversations.

 

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Episode 107: Mary Pickford

Posted 11 June 2018 by
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Mary Pickford was an actress, writer, director, producer, studio head and entrepreneur…but she’s often remembered as “that pretty girl with the curls in silent movies.”

Excuse us? Oh no, that just won’t do.

Library of Congress

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Episode 106: Beatrix Potter Revisited and Refreshed

Posted 19 May 2018 by
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This week we’re taking a look back at one of the women who surprised us both, in the most delightful of ways-Beatrix Potter. As time and technology has allowed, we’ve gone back and quietly remastered the audio in a number of our older shows and Beatrix is the latest. When we know better, we do better! (more…)

Episode 105: Dowager Empress Cixi of China

Posted 30 April 2018 by
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The true story of a woman who, essentially, ruled China for almost 50 years is cloaked by years of inaccurate (read: fabricated) reporting and several sources muddled through translation. Sometimes it feels as if her history is behind the same silk screen where she ruled, a clear outline with veiled detail.

So this’ll be fun!

Yehenara Tsing was born on November 29, 1853. Her name changes several times through her life (and more through translated spellings): Tsing (some sources use her family name which appears first), Lan, Yi and finally the form that she is known to history: Cixi. (more…)

Episode 104: Louisa May Alcott

Posted 8 April 2018 by
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Louisa May Alcott is easily remembered as the author of the sweet coming of age novel about four sisters in Civil War era New England. It was based on her life and her family, but it left out a lot. Like poverty, consistent moving, a father with more lofty ideals than successful methods to deliver them, and writing a large body of work across many genres before she even sat down to write Little Women. Learning her story brings a deeper level of appreciation to all of her work and a good look into the era from a unique perspective.

Plus, it’s a great story of a determined, brilliant and brave woman. Lots to love. (more…)

Episode 103: Ada Lovelace

Posted 17 March 2018 by
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Countess Ada Lovelace’s mind was extraordinary in the truest sense, truthfully there was very little that was ordinary about her. She was the only legitimate daughter of the poet, Lord Byron and his only wife, Annabella (the 11th Baroness Wentworth thankyouverymuch.) She never met her wild and wildly popular father, was raised by a mother who protected her from the fame-by-association that came with having that kind of parent, educated in a manner that most girls of the time never experienced and, eventually, used that education along with her logical and creative brain to write the world’s first computer program. (more…)

Episode 102: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Part Two

Posted 25 February 2018 by
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When we last left Jackie, she was about to set off for a political appearance with her husband to Texas in 1963. This episode covers what happened on that trip, and how she handled her grief and lived her life until her death on May 19, 1994. We really saw three different versions of Jackie in this episode: The Widow, The Mrs. Onassis, The Happy Jackie… and we cover all of them.

The most tragically iconic suit. Dallas, Texas November 22, 1963

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Episode 101: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Part One

Posted 9 February 2018 by
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Only the most iconic of women can simply go by one name, and Jackie is one of them. Her life was a complicated collage of privilege, challenge, balance and reinvention. In this episode, we talk about the first half of that life from baby of affluence born exactly when the wealth of the US crashed, to just before she headed off on a trip with her husband to Texas in 1963.

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