Wednesday, September 24, 2008

More Than A Face In A Crowd

The photograph of the young woman was taken in 1918, when she was 31. The photographer fell maddly in love with her, left his wife, and they lived together and eventually married in 1924. By then, she was internationally recognized as one of the most important contemporary American artists. In 1928, a series of her paintings of calla lillies brought $25,000, more than had ever been paid for works by a living American artist. She is, of course, Georgia O'Keefe, born in 1887 in Wisconsin, the daughter of dairy farmers. She was named after her father George, an Hungarian immigrant.

The photographer who fell in love with her was Alfred Stieglitz, himself famous as a photographer and art impresario. He took more than 300 photographs of O'Keefe, a portfolio that was unique in that it raised the depiction of individual body parts to works of art in their own right.

Over the years, their individual careers kept them apart for considerable lengths of time, but their devotion to each other never flagged.

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