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Georgia’s Hands

Georgia’s Hands

Catherine Zinser

Georgia’s Hands

by Alfred Steiglitz

from Chicago Institute of Art

Alfred Stieglitz campaigned throughout the first half of the twentieth century to legitimize photography and modern art. He founded an exhibiting organization, the Photo-Secession, then the periodical Camera Work, and finally a series of galleries. The most influential of these, the gallery known simply as 291, operating from 1908 until 1917, introduced the work of such leaders of the European avant-garde as Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso. Georgia O’Keeffe, who became Stieglitz’s wife in 1924, was among the progressive American artists whose work he also exhibited at 291. In a search for objective truth and pure form, the innovative photographer took some five hundred photographs of O’Keeffe between 1917 and 1937. The essence of O’Keeffe, he felt, was not confined to her head and face alone; equally expressive were her torso, feet, and especially her hands, as seen here. What resulted is a “composite portrait” of the painter, in which each photograph, revealing her intrinsic nature at a particular moment, can stand alone as an independently expressive form. When these serial images are viewed as a whole, they portray the essence of O’Keeffe’s many different “selves.”

– Chicago Institute of Art

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