April 26, 2017

"On the drive back, she said it would be very easy for her to convert someone to Catholicism. 'It has great appeal,' she said."

"'Not for me, of course, but I can see the appeal.' A few years after she discovered the Ghost Ranch and built her house there, the ranch (not including her property) was sold to the Presbyterian Church, which used it as a conference center. 'I gave the Presbyterians a wide berth,' she told us. 'You know about the Indian eye that passes over you without lingering, as though you didn’t exist? That was the way I looked at the Presbyterians, so they wouldn’t become too friendly.'"

She = Georgia O'Keeffe. I = Calvin Tomkins, who's writing today about an encounter that occurred in 1962.

"The Indian eye" — I don't remember seeing that before, but maybe I did and passed over it, as though it didn't exist. But it seems politically incorrect, no? Isn't it unkind to pin that on Georgia, after all these years?

I idly google "Was Georgia O'Keeffe racist?" and I get to a passage in a biography I read a long time ago (by Roxana Robinson). The word "racism" appears in the context of her comparison of sexism to racism: "I think it's pretty funny that women have always been treated like Negroes in this country and they don't even know it." That was said in the 1970s, when feminists took to idolizing her. I enjoyed this paragraph on the next page:

36 comments:

harkin said...

So she was a libertarian? Nice. Some tasty quotes in that excerpt.

As to the 'Indian Eye', if you've ever spent time with Native Americans, you know exactly what she means. Why must one find racism in every quote concerning culture?

Liesl said...

Whatever on the Indian thing. It should be taken in the context of the time (kind of like HRC's responses to her husband's dalliances, but that's another story, sort of...). As for the "female artist" thing, there seems to be a new catchphrase being bandied about, "girlboss," or as most people refer to them, "boss." These people who continually try to force segregation to beget equality (or equity, or equality of outcome) do nothing but shoot themselves in the foot. I dig what O'Keeffe's saying in that last paragraph.

rhhardin said...

You get Indian eye from staring at turquoise jewelry.

roesch/voltaire said...

As O'Keeffe wrote in the introduction to the photographs that Alfred Stieglitz, who she lived with for thirty years, took of her nude body, " ...I have lived many lives," Of course that life was helped a great deal by the association with Stieglitz which positioned her for success, not to dilute her achievement, but which gave her sense of independence few women, feminist or not, could have achieved in that time.

Fernandinande said...

"I think it's pretty funny that women have always been treated like Negroes in this country and they don't even know it."

Here's a picture of her tits.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

She refused to dilute her achievement in the reservoir of group activity.

That is a wonderful sentence and an admirable sentiment.

mockturtle said...

"..she refused to dilute her achievement in the reservoir of group activity.. "

Good for her! Kind of Ayn Randian of her.

Bill Peschel said...

The most interesting artists are the ones who go their own way, and aren't afraid of calling bullshit on their ostensible allies.

This can lead them to being marginalized, even hated. That comes at a personal cost -- who loves being shunned? -- but their works are the more powerful for it.

One of the few art exhibits I visited featured O'Keefe's paintings. Her pre-flowers, at the beginning of her career, were simple lines, almost like she was testing herself on the canvas. The flower paintings were, of course, sublime, and taught me that you have to see the canvas to experience the work. Prints in books don't give you the same feeling.

Her clouds pictures were really impressive. Sky Above Clouds IV was 24' by 8' high and took up the whole wall of a room. You had to stand at the other end to take it in.

LakeLevel said...

Mary E. Glynn: "Not many fake, polite smiles either.
It's a compliment, actually."

Yeah, I admire the ability to see people as part of the landscape or environment, and so ignore them. It's a deeper, connected understanding of the world.

Roughcoat said...

"elegant doyenne of the women's movement"

Bad writing alert.

Comanche Voter said...

Of which "Indian eye" was Ms. O Keefe speaking? Subcontinent or Native American Indian?

I have a Greek son in law and the "eye" is important in that culture. Whether it has the same significance as an Indian eye, or say a Comanche eye, is open to question.

veni vidi vici said...

That paragraph describes my 11 year old daughter quite astutely. She's deffo not a groupthinker, and has a great "innate dignity" that rejects foolishness. Nice to hear she's in good company!

mockturtle said...

Harkin comments: As to the 'Indian Eye', if you've ever spent time with Native Americans, you know exactly what she means. Why must one find racism in every quote concerning culture?

The misguided notion that all cultures think and act alike is not only ignorant but dangerous.

Roughcoat said...

Is Althouse the "elegant doyenne" of this blog? Just wondering.

Paddy O said...

"The misguided notion that all cultures think and act alike is not only ignorant but dangerous."

It's the colonial mindset, where everyone is really the same, some are just more advanced in the path and have to help out others get there.

exiledonmainstreet said...

The misguided notion that all cultures think and act alike is not only ignorant but dangerous.

4/26/17, 10:37 AM

The really weird - and dangerous- idea is that all cultures (save the "deplorables") somehow share the values of upper middle class college educated American liberals - they're offended by the same things, see racism in the same things and, at bottom, would be delighted to live in a diverse, multicultural Utopia.

It's not only ignorant and dangerous, it's a twisted sort of cultural imperialism.

exiledonmainstreet said...

Paddy O beat me to it.

Earnest Prole said...

"Indian Eye" is a neutral cultural-anthropological reference, like, say, talking about the respect Chinese culture affords elders. It is true that a small segment of the population considers any cultural reference of any kind to be racist, but they tend to congregate together in academia.

madAsHell said...

From the article....O’Keeffe made dinner for me on that stove one night, in the fall of 1973, when I visited her at the Ghost Ranch.

1962? There was a World's Fair in Seattle.

traditionalguy said...

Alas Georgia was not from Georgia. She was named after a Grandfather who was an Hungarian Count named George Von Otto.

madAsHell said...

It has great appeal.

My wife is Catholic. We were married in the Catholic church by a priest that sexually assaulted a parishioner.

The principal at the Catholic school my kids attended was suddenly re-assigned. Years later, we learned that the principal had been accused of child molesting. The principal was the only female on the list.

Sebastian said...

So men helped her more than women? That can't be. Sisterhood rules.

Earnest Prole said...

This worrying that someone, somewhere might think you a racist is so provincial.

Paddy O said...

exiled, great minds... as was discussed the other day hereabouts.

Luke Lea said...

Wouldn't belong to any organization that would have her as a member.

n.n said...

Men, too. Their liberty constrained. The product of their labor redistributed. Their dignity denied.

Special and peculiar prejudice has become a progressive condition with the establishment of the Pro-Choice Church, with its doctrines of selective-child, [class] diversity, exclusive congruence, and rabid anti-nativism.

Martha said...

Write about women or write about artists. The two are not connected except by identity hucksters. Good for Georgia O'Keefe.

Richard Dolan said...

Accepting that Catholicism was not for her, she should still be canonized as a secular saint. Finding so much uncommon common sense in one place is a real pleasure.

What Next said...

Ghost Ranch is now more or less a hippy commune owned and operated by the reliably liberal, mainline Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Lots of arts and crafts and "spirituality" offerings: https://www.ghostranch.org/education/spiritual-retreats/

tcrosse said...

When I was young and foolish I was married to a Womens Studies major who was gaga for O'Keeffe's flower paintings. We had a house full of prints of the stuff. It was all about the yonic narcissism, precursor of the Pussy Hat. Plus ça change....

mockturtle said...

I was married to a Womens Studies major

I'm sorry to hear that, tcrosse. :-(

buwaya said...

"Is Althouse the "elegant doyenne" of this blog? Just wondering."

She is the salonnière of course. That is as elegant as can be.

Jim said...

It's like John Lennon said,"woman is the nigger of the world." Amazingly 15 year old Jim could have a discussion about the song with a Black teacher in 1972 and actually say the n word. It is frankly amazing to me how much control leftists have gained over what one may say in 45 years.

harkin said...

Almost forgot, one of my earliest memories concerning GOK was from a magazine article with a photo of what I thought was the coolest coffee table ever.

Here's a different shot of it:

https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-mfOvv9YsyCE/UvJchHyWEJI/AAAAAAAADqw/zIhf4HAKQjk/s1600/artist-georgia-okeeffe-abiquiu-nm-home-studio-rattlesnake-skeleton.jpg

harkin said...

"The misguided notion that all cultures think and act alike is not only ignorant but dangerous."

If all cultures thought and acted alike I doubt if "culture" would even be a word.

Michael K said...

All I know of Calvin Tompkins is his book about Two of my favorite people.

Living Well Is the Best Revenge is Calvin Tomkins' now-classic account of the lives of Gerald and Sara Murphy, two American expatriates who formed an extraordinary circle of friends in France during the 1920s.

Great stories.