Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Georgia O'Keeffe: childless artist

Georgia O'Keeffe never had children. A famous artist of the 20th century, she started painting in her teens and continued into her 90s. She lived a fascinating life. Married to Alfred Steiglitz, an art patron and her mentor, she wanted to have children but agreed with him that motherhood was incompatible with her art. She needed to focus all of her attention on her painting, and that's what she did.

Okeeffe was a strange woman who dressed in black and shunned the company of other people. She spent most of her life living alone in an adobe house in the desert. She became known at first for painting huge vivid flowers that seemed to some to be loaded with sexual imagery. Later she fell in love with the American Southwest and painted many scenes of the desert and of the bones and rocks she found there. Steiglitz proclaimed that she was the first to present a woman's view of things.

Did she wish she'd had children? Perhaps, but her art was everything.

I just finished reading a fascinating biography of O'Keeffe. Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O'Keeffe by Laurie Lisle tells the story very well. One can find more information about the artist and her work at the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum website and at the PBS American Masters site. A Lifetime TV movie about O'Keeffe also tells her story.

This raises the perpetual question: Can a woman be a mother and an artist (writer, dancer, CEO) at the same time?

2 comments:

Unknown said...

Interesting post. I knew Georgia O'Keefe did not have children, but was not aware that she wanted them. I have her on my list of famous non-parents, which will be published in my book, Kidfree & Lovin' It.

Your book about people who are childless due to a partner sounds interesting, and I wish you the best of luck with it. In my book these people are called "childless" if they are upset that they don't have children, and they are called "kidfree" if, in hindsight, they are a glad to be non-parents due to all the freedom and benefits.

Do let us know when "Childless by Marriage" is published! -Kaye Walters

Suelick said...

Thanks for your comments. Definitely let us know when your book comes out. I'll definitely shout it out when mine is ready.