Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986)
I believe I would rather have Stieglitz like something - anything I had done - than anyone else I know.
- Georgia O'Keeffe
Across the arc of the 20th century, Georgia O'Keeffe created an extraordinary body of work that enlived and enriched the texture of American Art. Her well-known marriage to Alfred Stieglitz (see Photography section of the Review) brought together two of the finest American artists in history. O'Keefe's paintings are characterized by a bold and startling use of color and a selection of images which animated everything from New York skyscrapers to desert flowers, to cattle skulls. "She is chiefly known for paintings in which she synthesizes abstraction and representation in paintings of flowers, rocks, shells, animal bones and landscapes."
Red Snapdragons 1923
I decided to start anew, to strip away what I had been taught.
I have things in my head that are not like what anyone has taught me - shapes and ideas so near to me - so natural to my way of being and thinking that it hasn't occurred to me to put them down.
Cottonwood III, 1944
I know now that most people are so closely concerned with themselves that they are not aware of their own individuality, I can see myself, and it has helped me to say what I want to say in paint.
Pelvis Series, 1945
I don't really know where I got my artist idea - I only know that by that time it was definitely settled in my mind.
Sky Above White Clouds, 1, 1962
It was all so far away - there was quiet and an untouched feel to the country and I could work as I pleased.
Alone with Hopper
The man's the work. Something doesn't come out of nothing.'
-Edward Hopper (1882-1967)
The remarkable paintings of Edward Hopper have entered the hearts and lives of millions. Described as the most famous of the "inter-war" artists, his popularity continues to grow. This is in spite of the fact that his images evoke one of the feelings we may fear most: loneliness.
House by the Railroad, 1925
Around 1920, as he neared the age of forty, Hopper was still largely unknown and is reported to have wondered if his work would ever be recognized. By 1924, his shows were sold out. In 1925, he painted the picture above. Art critics consider it to be his breakthrough piece and the first mature expression of his genius.
Compartment 3, Car 293, 1938
'To me the most important thing is the sense of going on. You know how beautiful things are when you're travelling.' -Edward Hopper
It's interesting to compare his two portrayals of similar subject matter painted twenty-seven years apart. Furniture design may have changed, but Hopper's ability to paint loneliness was as powerful as ever.
Chair Car, 1965
Hotel room, 1931
Hopper often used his wife, Jo Nivison, as his model for his female images. He thought of her as extraordinary in her ability to act any role he sought to paint.
New York Movie, 1939
I used to spend lots of time in front of an image with similar subject matter that still hangs in the Toledo Museum of Art. The image is called "Two on the Aisle." Beyond loneliness, it seems to capture one of those in-between moments where we live so much of our lives - the movie is about to begin, or the movies has just ended, or there's an intermission. It's the time we all know and usually disregard as unimportant, until along comes a genius like Edward Hopper to paint it into our memory.
Here is the great, popular image, Nighthawks. As the entertaining art critic, Sister Wendy says, "Apparently, there was a period when every college dormitory in the country had on its walls a poster of Hopper's Nighthawks; it had become an icon. It is easy to understand its appeal. This is not just an image of big-city loneliness, but of existential loneliness: the sense that we have (perhaps overwhelmingly in late adolescence) of being on our own in the human condition."
Hopper died in 1967 as isolated as the subject of one of his paintings, but not forgotten. His wife, Jo, died ten months later.
(background research: "Lives of the Great 20th-Century Artists", by Edward Lucie-Smith)
Paintings by Jan Keeling
Painting in oils and drawing with graphite is how Jan Keeling communicates best with others who are moved by the visual world around them. After a career editing children’s books, gardening books, novels, and academic papers, as well as painting portraits in watercolor, Keeling decided to devote the greater part of every day to painting in oils. The painting “Punk Rock Girl” has been selected for display in the 2006 Central South Art Exhibition.
To view more work by Jan Keeling, please visit www.jankeeling.com.