A Novel of Georgia O'Keeffe
By: Dawn Tripp
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: 2/9/2016
My Rating: 5 Stars
Georgia O'Keeffe, her love affair with photographer Alfred Stieglitz, and her quest to become an independent artist come to life in this sensuous and wonderfully written novel, a dazzling departure into historical fiction by the acclaimed novelist Dawn Tripp. In 1916, Georgia O'Keeffe is a young, unknown art teacher when she travels to New York to meet Stieglitz, the famed photographer and art dealer, who has discovered O'Keeffe's work and exhibits it in his gallery. Their connection is instantaneous. O'Keeffe is quickly drawn into Stieglitz's sophisticated world, becoming both his mistress and muse, as their attraction deepens into an intense and tempestuous relationship and his photographs of her, both clothed and nude, create a sensation.
Yet as her own creative force develops, Georgia begins to push back against what the world is saying about her and her art. And soon she must make difficult choices to live a life she believes in.
A special thank you to Random House and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Inspired by the life of the extraordinary iconic American artist, Georgia O’Keeffe, the "Mother of American Modernism",and her love relationship with, photographer Alfred Stieglitz;beautifully drawn, Dawn Tripp evokes emotion, complexity, passion, and creativity with her stunning delivery of GEORGIA. Not only an exploration of O’Keeffe’s life, art, politics, and influence; however, more importantly, an example of the many tough challenges faced by women of the era. The 1920s marked a period of new freedom for women in America's modernizing urban culture. Set in a world of change, at the end of WWI to the Roaring '20s and then the Great Depression, scrutinized both personally and professionally-- Readers will be swept away; from erotic, bold, intense, romantic, control, and sacrifice. Powerful and evocative! "I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for." -Georgia O'Keeffe Capturing the awareness, spirit and raw desires of two extraordinary artists-- Tripp creates imagining dialogue, and scenes between the two, as well as their circle of friends, family, and acquaintances—to create a mesmerizing blending; an infusion of fact and fiction—strong human dynamics of love and desires. Georgia O’Keeffe is one of the most significant and intriguing artists of the twentieth century, known internationally for her boldly innovative art. Her distinct flowers, dramatic cityscapes, glowing landscapes, and images of bones against the stark desert sky are iconic and original contributions to American Modernism. Early on, O’Keeffe mailed some of her highly abstract drawings to a friend in New York City, who showed them to Alfred Stieglitz. An art dealer and internationally known photographer, he was the first to exhibit her work in 1916. Soon thereafter, her life took on a drastic change--a passionate and often tumultuous relationship, to the desperate need to step out of his shadow. Georgia O’Keeffe is a young woman, painting and teaching art in Texas, when she travels to New York to meet Alfred Stieglitz, the married gallery owner of 291, modern art promoter, and photographer. Their instantaneous attraction and powerful hunger for each other draw her into his world of art, sex, and passion, and she becomes his mistress and his muse. He would eventually become O’Keeffe’s husband. The language of letters –Intimate, vulnerable, complex. A woman of exceptional passion, a rigorous intelligence, and a strong creative drive. From 1915 until 1946, some 25,000 pieces of paper were exchanged between two major 20th-century artists. Painter Georgia O'Keeffe and photographer Alfred Stieglitz wrote each other letters — sometimes two and three a day, some of them 40 pages long. The correspondence tracks their relationship from acquaintances to admirers to lovers, man and wife, and their marriage struggles. As her own artistic fervor begins to push the boundaries of her life, we see Georgia transform into the powerfully independent woman she is known as today. The author was inspired and fascinated behind the discrepancies in fact as well as varied interpretation of the woman behind the icon. As Tripp reiterates, the critical language repeatedly used to describe and define O’Keeffe’s work by male critics during her lifetime was an important inspiration for the novel. In gendered terms—“limiting our perception of her art and influence.” From New York, 1917, Texas, to New Mexico, 1979, time stands still when he whispers, “Don’t move”, Georgia. “Whatever you are thinking, don’t lose it. Don’t move. Don’t blink. Nothing. “ “Perhaps Stieglitz is not my life, but a detour from it.” O'Keeffe's distinctive way of rendering nature in shapes and forms that made them seem simultaneously familiar and new earned her a reputation as a pioneer of the form. Georgia blazed new trials for women artists and in 1946, O’Keeffe became the first woman to earn a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. Twenty-four years later, a Whitney Museum of American Art retrospective exhibit introduced her work to a new generation. Fifteen years after that, O'Keeffe was included in the inaugural slate of artists chosen to receive the newly founded National Medal of Arts for her contribution to American culture. Nice cover in relation to the essence of the flower. The famousPetunia, where she magnifies the flower's form to emphasize its shape --representative of nature and her usage of flowers as a motif. Impeccably researched, Tripp’s writing is lyrical, sensuous, provocative, magical and poetic—the canvas, the brush, and the characters come to life. With sparks of history, culture, sex, love, romance, art, creativity, and strong emotions-- the words jump off each page. Historic fans will delight in the life of the artist icon, and equally impressed with the talented storyteller, as well. Captivating! On a personal note: The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe is the first museum in the US dedicated to a female artist, and its research center sponsors significant fellowships for scholars of modern American art. Having spent time in Santa Fe, NW as well as the Southwest, if you get an opportunity, visit the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum (fascinating)!
American artist Georgia O'Keeffe blazes across the pages in Tripp's tour de force ... The author manages to get inside O'Keeffe's mind to such an extent that readers experience her transformation … they will feel the passion that infused her work and love life that emboldened her canvases ... The relationship between Stieglitz and O'Keeffe, and her metamorphosis from lover to wife to jilted partner, is poignantly drawn. Tripp has hit her stride here, bringing to life one of the most remarkable artists of the 20th century with veracity, heart, and panache.--PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (STARRED REVIEW)
As magical and provocative as O’Keeffe’s lush paintings of flowers that upended the art world in the 1920s...Tripp inhabits Georgia’s psyche so deeply that the reader can practically feel the paintbrush in hand as she creates her abstract paintings and New Mexico landscapes....Erotic and evocative from the first page to the last, Tripp’s Georgia is a romantic yet realistic exploration of the sacrifices one of the foremost artists of the 20th century made for love.--USA TODAY
A dazzling exploration of Georgia O'Keeffe's artistic career and the deeply human woman behind the cultural icon...Tripp's writing is the linguistic equivalent of O'Keeffe's art: bold, luminous, full of unusual juxtapositions... By exploring one woman's struggle to be seen and valued for herself, Tripp asks important questions about gender, love and the roles of criticism and public image in art.--SHELF AWARENESS
Masterful...the book is a lovely portrayal of an iconic artist who is independent and multidimensional. Tripp's O'Keeffe is a woman hoping to break free of conventional definitions of art, life and gender, as well as a woman of deep passion and love.--MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL
I devoured this dazzling portrait of an American icon. Dawn Tripp brings Georgia O'Keeffe so fully to life on every page and, with great wisdom, examines the very nature of love, longing, femininity, and art.--J. COURTNEY SULLIVAN, NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF MAINE AND THE ENGAGEMENTS
In this masterful novel, Dawn Tripp erases the boundary between writer and character, bringing O'Keeffe's voice, essence and vision to life. Georgia is a dazzling, brilliant work about the struggle between artist and woman, between self and the other, between love and the necessity to break free of it. The luminous sensuality of the writing glows from every page, drawing the reader into the splendor and machinations of the NYC art world between the wars, revealing both Georgia O'Keeffe and Dawn Tripp as the great artists they are.--B.A. SHAPIRO, NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE ART FORGER & THE MURALIST
Georgia O'Keeffe's life became legendary even as she was living it, something she both invited and fought against. This is the fascinating tension at the heart of Dawn Tripp's novel - a book that, like O'Keeffe's paintings, is lush and rigorous, bold and subtle, sensual, cranky, deeply felt, and richly imagined.--JOAN WICKERSHAM
About the Author
Winner of the Massachusetts Book Award for fiction, Dawn Tripp is the author of the novels Moon Tide, The Season of Open Water, and Game of Secrets, a Boston Globe bestseller. Her essays have appeared in the Virginia Quarterly Review, The Believer, The Rumpus, Psychology Today, and on NPR.
Her fourth novel, Georgia, a biographical novel about the American artist Georgia O’Keeffe, will be published by Random House in early 2016. She graduated from Harvard and lives in Massachusetts with her family. Read More