Tuesday, November 13, 2007

More on O'Keeffe's Style

Feeling a bit defensive about the comments I made below about O'Keeffe's personal style, comments based purely on my response to the photographs of her which were included in the VAG exhibit, I decided to do some simple research this morning. Googling, I discovered a new blog I'll be back to visit more soon (right now, I really should get to class!), with a post titled Georgia O'Keeffe: Reluctant Fashionista?. The writer, Tricia Royal, includes this passage from Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O'Keeffe by Laurie Lisle:

For years Georgia had stitched most of her simple clothes out of the finest fabric, often sewing when she wanted to think. She made luxurious white silk blouses, white cotton nightgowns with white embroidery, and petticoats edged with white lace. In cold weather she donned a black wool coat with a collar that buttoned up to her chin and black gloves of the best leather. At one time, she sported a pair of black bloomers under a tentlike black tunic. Throughout the years, when asked the reason for her monotone clothing -odd for a painter- she gave several, all with some truth to them. Once she said that if she began to choose colors to wear, she would not have time to pick any to paint. Another time she explained that she was so sensitive to color that if she wore a red dress, she would be obliged to live up to its flamboyance. She claimed she liked being cloaked in anonymity. “There’s something about black,” she remarked. “You feel hidden away in it.” Deadly-serious black also served to transmit the message that she was not to be treated frivolously or flirtatiously. Also, she must have realized that if her clothes were one color, they would match and she would achieve a look of maximum elegance with a minimum of time and money.

I'm putting this book on my reading list (but it's a long list; who knows when I'll get to it!). And I thank Ms. Royal for directing me to this passage. Now I'd better head to work!


  1. Don't be defensive! I'm sorry if I put you there.

    I absolutely understand the desire to not have to think about clothes, to have a uniform; for it to be automatic. Then I get bored, or realize that I don't look as marvelous as I think I do, or could. And I love color, texture, line, and pattern as much as anyone. And I really do think I dress to entertain myself. AS in, I don't have time for real entertainment, so why don't I wedge it in with this necessity?

    And I've realized that's what my work surfing is all about...entertainment. I'd rather see clothes and fashion than read up on the daily news or write reports. I can't think of anything I'd rather do than converse, and I can't think of something more fun to do it about. I guess that puts me squarely in the frivolous camp!!!!

  2. Haven't read both postings yet, but I've tagged you to play 8 random things meme-tag; visit my posting at http://tinyurl.com/2wkast (this is shortened to a tinyURL to fit in comment spaces) to get the instructions on how to play, and do have fun! It's a great way to get to know fellow bloggers, and to have them see your site.

  3. Here at home today with a sick husband, the boys are napping and daughter's off to school with my dad...

    I've been meaing to ask you mater: What sort of bag/bags do you use to manage all your stuff, shoes, papers, etc., on your long commute? I still struggle with this style/function issue.

    Many thanks, Dana

  4. This is a fabulous quote. O'Keefe is a hero of all art teachers trying to promote a positive role model to girls, I had no idea she had such a strong ethos with her clothes as well, which makes her even more of an icon in my book. Talking of which this wiil take this months amazon basket to 8 and I still have not started the 3 I bought this month, just not enough hours in the day.

  5. Thanks for this. I am going to use all those reasons -- time, the colour obligations, and anonymity to explain my dark presence. You have a terrific website, materfilias!


I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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