Art from Dance, Gladys, Dance – Georgia O’Keeffe

Excerpt from Dance, Gladys, Dance

Not two weeks after Norman first noticed I was working again, he invited the local artists’ league over for tea. A troupe of ladies in floaty afternoon dresses and one man in a corduroy jacket with leather patches on the elbows showed up. They were horrifying. I couldn’t think of a thing to say. I crumbled my biscuit in my desert plate as they discussed the merits of realism and denounced every artist imaginable since Rembrandt. One of them had recently been on a trip to New Mexico and the conversation turned to Georgia O’Keeffe. Now, I thought, I can participate.

“Oh, her flowers,” said one.

 “Her poppies.” They gave a collective sigh.

I said, “Did you know that Georgia said that she hated flowers and only painted them because they were cheaper than models and didn’t move?”

Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986). Red Poppy VI, 1928. Oil on canvas, 35 1/2 x 29 3/4 inches (90.2 x 75.6 cm). Private collection © 2006 The Georgia O’Keefe Museum/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Excerpt from Dance, Gladys, Dance

They looked at me. I smiled. “Did you see her cow’s skull series?”

They shook their heads. “I love her attitude,” I said. “I once read that she said ‘I can’t live where I want to. I can’t go where I want to go. I can’t do what I want to. I can’t even say what I want to. I decided I was a very stupid fool not to at least paint as I wanted to.’ Isn’t that brilliant? A very stupid fool.”

“I suppose,” said the man, Geoff, I think his name was, “that you’re one of those feminist revisionists who wants to rewrite art history.”

“No, I just thought it was a good quote. I don’t even know what a feminist revisionist is. And,” I said crushing my biscuit into tiny crumbs and letting them fall from my fingers onto the table, “I don’t care.”

Geoff sniffed.

36 x 40 1/8 in. (91.2 x 102 cm)
Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1959 (59.204.2)
© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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