In images, in picturesHusband and wife in 1920s New York, these artists lived their mad, scandalous love, even in their respective productions. Giant flower paintings for her, nude photos of her for him. Light on these correspondences on the occasion of the retrospective devoted to Georgia O’Keeffe, at the Center Pompidou, from September 8.
He called it “white light”. And it was through that of dawn and dusk that he had discovered it. When, in 1917, Alfred Stieglitz discovered the works of Georgia O’Keeffe, it was a revelation. The very young painter sent one of her friends as an ambassador to the great photographer with the mission of showing him some of her watercolors. “I think I would rather Stieglitz – than anyone else – like something, anything, that I have done”, she had confided to him.
Stieglitz discovers the works in gallery 291 which he has dedicated to the artists of his heart, on the Ve New York Avenue. “These are the finest, most sincere and purest things that have entered 291 for a long time!” “, he enthuses at first glance. He is 53 years old and is at the height of his glory; she knows the mists of the autochromes of his beginnings, his frenzied defense of the European avant-garde, which he introduced to America, and also the circle of photographers and painters that he constituted, entirely vested in to the invention of a new modernity. She is barely 30 years old and still has everything to prove.
“You have a heart big enough to hold all of Heaven – and all that Heaven means. »Alfred Stieglitz to Georgia O’Keeffe
Raised in the expanses of Sun Prairie, Winsconsin, then a teacher in Amarillo, Texas, she promised herself from her early years to broad horizons. Communion very quickly becomes intense with the one Man Ray describes as follows: “A man, in love with everything. (…) His eyes do not throw any spark. They burn from the inside. Man is essential. Everyone touches him and no one shakes him. “ Except Georgia. He married her in 1924, after leaving his first wife. “You have a heart big enough to hold all of Heaven – and all that Heaven means”, he wrote to her.
In his eyes, she broods the promise of becoming a painter “Supremely American” : his obsession with bringing out an aesthetic completely stripped of this Europe from which his ancestors come. She, who “Has its roots in America”, embodies this dream better than any other …
Freud, Einstein, Buddhism, Occultism
In the 1920s, they live together at the top of the Shelton Hotel, installed in a Manhattan skyscraper: they believe they are there ” in the middle of the ocean “. The city she then depicts is a lunar city, its avenues look like canyons. Freud, Einstein, Buddhism, the occult, they share everything, readings and influences. He introduces him to the musicality of Kandinsky, to the need to express, like the painter, the spiritual dimension of the visible world; she shares with him her fascination for Japanese prints.
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