O'KEEFFE, Georgia (1887-1986). A important archive of 54 autograph letters signed and 2 autograph postcards signed (mostly "G"; 6 as "Georgia O'Keeffe" and 11 as "Georgia"), all to Alan Reed Priest (1898-1969), Curator of Far Eastern Art at the Metropolitan Museum, Abiquiu, New Mexico, 2 January 1950 to 5 July 1961. Together 112 pages, most 4to, on rectos only, boldly penned in black or brown ink (several in a vibrant turqouise ink), a few with original envelopes, all in mint condition. With 3 copies of letters from Priest to O'Keeffe.
AN INTIMATE VIEW OF O'KEEFFE IN ABIQUIU: "MY DAYS ARE TOO GOOD AND TOO SHORT"
From 1918, O'Keeffe lived in New York and exhibited her work yearly, but when her husband Alfred Stieglitz passed away in 1946, she moved permanently to Abiquiu, New Mexico, a former Native American village. But O'Keeffe remained close friends with Alan Reed Priest, Curator of Far Eastern Art in New York's Metropolitan Museum. An avid nature-lover and bird-watcher, Priest traveled widely in Asia after college, spending several years in Peking and in Japan before retiring to Connecticut.
In addition to their extensive correspondence, O'Keeffe and Priest occasionally visited each other and exchanged gifts; Priest regularly sent O'Keeffe the Metropolitan's Bulletin. The two shared a close connection to the natural world as well as to art. O'Keeffe's letters frequently express awe at nature's small wonders; these in turn often remind her of her friend Priest. Her vivid descriptions of her surroundings strongly evoke the imagery which inspires and pervades her work: 11/18/50 "Yesterday I went to a place I must certainly take you...Sharp 'teeth' formations of red earth -- full of rocks and pebbles running very high --covered in large spots with grey and green moss or lichens soft grey -- bare trees and blue and regular cedars in front of it, a lively stream along side..." One long letter gives impressions of an Indian dance ceremony: "...to make the corn grow...really a very remarkable experience. I really doubt that there is anything more sincere and spectacular anywhere in this world -- feathers -- quite a bit of paint...shells--silver--turquois--colored yarn--sleigh bells..." [4/17/52]. O'Keeffe is clearly delighted with her "country life" at Abiquiu, which offers "one perfect day after another" [2/28/50]. She is frequently interrupted by visitors, which "stops the workings of both my hand and head more than anything I know of. I am best alone. I work best when alone. I feel better when I'm alone. I'm like a puddle of dirty water that only comes clear when you leave it alone."
O'Keeffe writes of her painting and exhibitions. After a visit to New York and a gourmet meal, she jokes that she may forsake art for a culinary career, but dimisses the idea, since "that old painting stuff has too firm a hold on me" [11/29/50]. On 18 Dec. 1952, she writes: "Days I have been painting. Nights making order in the paper part of my life long neglected." Elsewhere, she queries why "occidentals consider the idea of weight so important in painting? I don't but most do. It must be from something so close to use that I can't find it. Most don't ever even ask why it is important--they just accept it as important..." [8/7/54] And several years later, on an "off" day: "I paint and like my life..." [11/7/58]. Together 56 items. (56) (55)