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Sunday, 11 November 2012



Black Place III: Georgia O'Keeffe, 1944, oil on canvas, 36'' x 40" (gift of the Burnett Foundation, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico)

All night beneath the sacred
Mountain, the ghosts -- 

Pain problematizes
The picture of the past

Carving its black
Passage through the snows

Like a knife
The path

Of the wound --
A canyon

Through which the copper
River flows --

Black Place I

Black Place I: Georgia O'Keeffe, 1944, oil on canvas, 26'' x 30 1/8" (Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico/San Francisco Museum of Modern Art)


Wooden Boy said...

It's strange, the body that's the subject here - you feel that you can dip your hand in. A mirror becomes a pool of water.

The poem and the paintings bring to mind the cerebral folds. It's a landscape that shouldn't be seen.

TC said...

Cerebral folds indeed. Almost like home.

Georgia O'Keefe gave the name The Black Place to one of her favourite painting locations, a stretch of desolate black, grey and silver clay hills encircled by white sand arroyos in Navajo country in Northwestern New Mexico, about 150 miles northwest of her home at Ghost Ranch. Some have compared the unique wind-eroded landscape formations of this area with pterodactyls. O'Keffe thought that from a distance, the hillls
looked like "a mile of elephants". Between 1936 and 1949 she made fourteen camping trips to this isolated off-road wilderness area, the Bisti Badlands. In 1944-45 these trips produced six canvases, two of which appear here.

Wooden Boy said...

It's as if the place was waiting for her.

Curtis Faville said...

Georgia said she used to roll under her car during the mid-day heat, to avoid heat-stroke.

It's always been assumed that her flower and mountain compositions were sexual metaphors, but I've always thought that missed the point.

They're like avatars of her soul, a daring unflinching portrait of desire and curiosity and awe, exfoliating from a mysterious center. Which is really rather UN-feminine when you think about it. It's like she's super sexual, not hermaphroditic.

She left Alfred because she wanted to transcend her own powerfully seductive sexuality. She conquered him and then moved on into a-sexual space. Seeing things purely, without any Aristotelian preconceptions. No men in her life, until Juan Hamilton moved in on her. Maybe that killed her daemon.

Curtis Faville said...

Wooden Boy:

It was.