Documented Aesthetic Argument Essay
I Know You Were Misunderstood: A Posthumous Letter to Georgia O’Keeffe
Dear Ms. O’Keeffe,
May I call you Georgia? I feel as if I know you and so it seems too formal to address you as miss, but I guess neither of these choices matters because you are dead, unfortunately. Despite that minor detail, I had to address you to let you know…I know. I recently spent some time with your painting, Red Canna, and to echo one of your critics, “The huge blossoms demand respect and admiration, and they captivate viewers, forcing those who stand close enough to feel their presence” (Richter). And after literally “feeling their presence” and getting to know the work, I had to let you know that your secret is safe with me.
I feel that you were sorely and irrevocably misunderstood. I think for decades, even during your lifetime when you were slowly becoming famous and making a name for yourself on the art scene, you were misunderstood. And you never said anything. Or if you did say something, it was hilariously harsh, like this quote, “I made you take time to look at what I saw and when you took time to really notice my flower you hung all your associations with flowers on my flower and you wrote about my flower as if I think and see what you think and see what you think and see of the flower-and I don’t ” (Lynes). Establishing yourself as indifferent and above the gossip and speculation, you never said anything to clear the air of misconceptions. You never corrected the critics and the naysayers, and while I respect that, I wish you would have - because now it’s too late, and you’re still misunderstood.
I think you let them all think you were independent. And for the most part, I’m sure you were ra...
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...ome human, and distinctly female to me, I feel and understand your works in a different, and deeper way now. So, thank you for sharing yourself and your talent with me; it will be appreciated far beyond my lifetime, as it was yours. Sleep tight, Georgia.
Your friend and awed admirer,
Amarillo Art Center. Georgia O’Keeffe and Her Contemporaries. Amarillo: Amarillo Art Center,
Drohojowksa-Philp, Hunter. Full Bloom The Art and Life of Georgia O’Keeffe. New York:
W.W. Norton & Company, 2004.
Lisle, Laurie. Portrait of an Artist A Biography of Georgia O’Keeffe. New York: Seaview
Lynes, Barbara Buhler. Georgia O’Keeffe and the Calla Lily in American Art, 1860-1940. New
Haven: Yale University Press, 2002.
Richter, Peter-Cornell. Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz. Munich: Prestel, 2001.