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Carl Van Vechten
Georgia O’Keeffe
16 August 1950
Carl Van Vechten Papers



In 1916, a friend sent a group of Georgia O’Keeffe’s drawings to photographer and gallery owner Alfred Stieglitz, who immediately recognized O’Keeffe’s talent and arranged an exhibition of her work at his famous gallery, 291. The show attracted attention from critics and viewers. “Behind these delicate, frequently immense, feminine forms the world is distant,” one critic wrote. “Poised and quick—elate—teeming a deep rain; erect, high, wide turning, unrequited in silent space this vision is exclusive to simple reality. . . .These drawings are given passive and tumultuous upon the air.”1

O’Keeffe first visited New Mexico in 1929; she then moved permanently to Abiquiu, New Mexico, in 1946. Her paintings of the southwestern landscape are considered to be among her most important work. Near the end of her first trip to Taos, O’Keeffe wrote a note to her hostess, Mabel Dodge Luhan: “Dear Mabel,” O’Keeffe wrote, “it is 5 A.M. and I have been up for about an hour – watching the moon grow pale – and the dawn come. . . . I wish I could see you this morning – more than that I wish I could tell you how important these months have been to me – Maybe you know.”2

1 C. Duncan, quoted in Alfred Steiglitz’s exhibition review of “Georgia O’Keeffe—C. Duncan—Réné Lafferty,”New York, 291, 23 May-5 July 1916 in Camera Work 48 October 1916, pp.12-13.
2 Georgia O’Keeffe to Mabel Dodge Luhan, August 1929. Georgia O’Keeffe: Art and Letters. Jack Cowart and Juan Hamilton. Letters Selected and Edited by Sarah Greenough. Washington: National Gallery of Art, 1987, pp. 191-2.



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