As readers of her How to Hepburn and The Gospel According to Coco Chanel know, Karen Karbo does not write traditional biographies. In fact, her reassessments are, as the subtitle of this book notes, lessons on the art of living. Thus, in covering the long (1887-1986) life of painter Georgia O'Keeffe, she teaches us more about how the Wisconsin-born artist found her path and defined her style than about how she mixed her paints or arranged her itineraries. How Georgia Became O'Keeffe describes how this passionately independent woman was able to maintain a successful relationship with Alfred Stieglitz, a masterful photographer with a strong personality. Unconventional both as a biography and a self-help tome; equally useful as both.
How Georgia Became O'Keeffe: Lessons on the Art of Livingby Karen Karbo
Most people associate Georgia O'Keeffe with New Mexico, painted cow skulls, and her flower paintings. She was revered for so longborn in 1887, died at age ninety-eight in 1986that we forget how young, restless, passionate, searching, striking, even fearful she once wasa dazzling, mysterious female force in bohemian New York City during its heyday.
Most people associate Georgia O'Keeffe with New Mexico, painted cow skulls, and her flower paintings. She was revered for so longborn in 1887, died at age ninety-eight in 1986that we forget how young, restless, passionate, searching, striking, even fearful she once wasa dazzling, mysterious female force in bohemian New York City during its heyday. In this distinctive book, Karen Karbo cracks open the O'Keeffe icon in her characteristic style, making one of the greatest women painters in American history vital and relevant for yet another generation. She chronicles O'Keeffe's early life, her desire to be an artist, and the key moment when art became her form of self-expression. She also explores O'Keeffe's passionate love affair with master photographer Alfred Stieglitz, who took a series of 500 black-and-white photographs of O'Keeffe during the early years of their marriage. How Georgia Became O'Keeffe: Lessons on the Art of Living delves into the long, extraordinary life of the renowned American painter, exploring a range of universal themesfrom how to discover and nurture your individuality to what it means to be in a committed relationship while maintaining your independence, from finding your own style to developing the ability to take risks. Each chapter is built around an aspect of living that concerns women today of all ages: how to find your own path; work with passion and conviction; express yourself; be in a relationship without sacrificing your sense of self; and do it all with an effortless, unique style. As with Karbo's previous books, How Georgia Became O'Keeffe: Lessons on the Art of Living is not a traditional biography, but rather a compelling, contemporary reassessment of the life of O'Keeffe with an eye toward understanding what we can learn from her way of being in the world.
- Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
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Read an Excerpt
How O’Keeffe Became Herself In the art world, critics remain divided over whether O’Keeffe was a genius or merely an energetic fetishist who pressed upon us, year after year, her sexy yin and yang paintings of calla lilies, sweet peas, the various chalk white bones of horses and cows, mysterious doorways, and adobe walls. What remains indisputable, however, is her genius for navigating the waters of her own vision, for discovering it, nurturing it, and never abandoning it. At a time when women still didn’t have the right to vote, when their life goal was marriage to pretty much anyone who would have them, O’Keeffe was having none of it. She had better fish to fry. How, we may ask, did she catch these all-important fish? She wrote lettersI realize I may as well be suggesting that you take up whittling, but the fact remains that one of the best ways to figure out what you’re all about is to write letters. . . . She found a devoteeOne of the reasons O’Keeffe was able to flaunt the conventions of Canyon with such confidence and ease is because she had Stieglitz rooting her on from New York. . . . . She defied all accepted conventions of feminine beautyWith her fabulous raw-boned frame, snaggly brows, and schoolmarm’s bun, her black vestments, man’s shoes, and odd assortment of hats and turbans, O’Keeffe was out there. There was no like her, then or ever. . . .
Meet the Author
Karen Karbo is a novelist, journalist, and witty, no-nonsense social commentator, and is the author of The Gospel According to Coco Chanel and How to Hepburn: Lessons on Living from Kate the Great, a biography-cum-guidebook the Philadelphia Inquirer called "an exuberant celebration of a great original." Karbo is also the author of Minerva Clark Gives Up the Ghost, the third installment in a trilogy about a seventh-grade girl detective who has a peculiar gift: self-confidence. Karbo's debut novel, Trespassers Welcome Here, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist, and all three of her novels have been named New York Times notable books. The Stuff of Life, her memoir about her father, was a People Magazine Critic's Pick and winner of the Oregon Book Award. Her work essays, reviews, and articles can be found in Outside, Elle, Vogue, Esquire, Redbook, More, Self, Entertainment Weekly, the New Republic, the Oregonian, and the New York Times. She lives in Portland, Oregon.
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