GEORGIA O'KEEFFE AT GHOST RANCH by John Loengard

GEORGIA O'KEEFFE AT GHOST RANCH

A Photo Essay
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 On assignment from Life in 1966, Loengard shot this austere and powerful group of black-and-white photographs of O'Keeffe (18871986) amidst her daily rituals at her New Mexico ranch home. Loengard's Life photo essay on O'Keeffe helped to forge a popular image of the modern painter in American society. Here we see O'Keeffe at age 79, having exiled herself from New York City in 1949 to her stark Ghost Ranch home near Abiquiu, N.M. Capturing the spartan lifestyle O'Keeffe followed after the death of her husband, photographer Alfred Stieglitz, Loengard presents a woman of striking physical beauty alone with her work, garden, and dogs. An image of O'Keeffe on her morning walk shows the artist's peasant- frocked body from the rear, in purposeful stride with her snake- killing stick, her dog keeping pace beside her. Indoors, Loengard captures O'Keeffe in a pensive moment, seated at the foot of her white linen bed, wearing a dark robe with her white hair drawn back. Her eyes are closed, her deeply etched face seemingly in mournful prayer, as she clasps a book in her gracefully outstretched fingers. Other shots focus on tools of the painting trade or on O'Keeffe's hands, juxtaposed against her collections of rounded stones and bleached white skulls and pelvis bones. These images quote directly from O'Keeffe's own well-known painting iconography. Moreover, they are directly influenced by, and bring full circle, a famous series of pictures, begun in 1918, that Stieglitz took of O'Keeffe, which eroticized the details of her voluptuous hands and torso. In a brief introduction, Loengard describes himself as a youthful interloper willfully intruding into O'Keeffe's private world. Quotes by O'Keeffe, reinforcing her matter-of-fact life philosophies, are interspersed throughout, to dramatic effect. O'Keeffe, as much as Loengard, seems to have shaped this powerfully mythologizing portrait of herself.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1995
ISBN: 1-55670-423-2
Page count: 80pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1995




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