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Modern Nature: Georgia O’Keeffe and Lake George



From childhood sketches to commercial photography, art runs deep in my life. When I was very young, my father took me to a local artist for lessons, an encounter that remains in my memory. Before becoming a commercial photographer, I illustrated and designed ads, sometimes using a camera to capture subjects for illustration creation. My studies in art history during college further shaped my skills, and I encourage all photographers to enrich their knowledge with art books, not just photography ones.

Georgia O’Keeffe’s work, filled with color and a blend of abstraction and reality, has captivated me since childhood. I’ve admired her free spirit and dedication to her craft, visiting the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe and sharing much space on my bookshelf for her works alongside another favorite, Alfred Stieglitz.

The relationship between O’Keeffe and her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, intrigued me. Despite a 23-year age gap and his initial marriage to another woman, their mutual love for each other lasted a lifetime. As a photographer, I’ve followed Stieglitz’s work, recognizing him as a pivotal figure in modern art and photographic development before photography was considered an art form.

I was drawn to Modern Nature: Georgia O’Keeffe and Lake George, a book focusing on O’Keeffe’s works created from 1918-1934 during summers and autumns at the Stieglitz family estate in upstate New York. This was a time before she became renowned for her desert-themed works, spending sixteen years in the lush greenery of Lake George.

The book, printed by Thames & Hudson in 2013, showcases over seventy color plates of O’Keeffe’s lesser-known work, including her magnificent flower paintings. Research by Erin Coe, the Hyde Collection’s chief curator, revealed about 200 works tied to Lake George, uncovering a significant part of O’Keeffe’s artistic legacy. An exhibit at The Hyde Collection in Glen Falls, New York, in June 2013 featuring these works cost about $750,000 to assemble, providing a delightful and informative experience for O’Keeffe fans like myself.

Contributions from Erin B. Coe, Bruce Robertson, and Gwendolyn Owens provide insight into O’Keeffe and Stieglitz’s time at Lake George, offering a new perspective on O’Keeffe’s modern approach to the natural world. The book confirms that her time at Lake George was a prolific and transformative period in her career, and it includes many photographs of O’Keeffe by Stieglitz.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in O’Keeffe’s work or the unique relationship between Stieglitz and O’Keeffe. It serves as a fascinating window into a time and place that shaped two monumental figures in the world of art. The printing and binding are of excellent quality that equally matches its content.


— Video below is from the Fine Arts Museum San Francisco: Georgia O’Keeffe’s Modern Nature, presented by Erin Coe, Chief Curator of the Hyde Collection.