Steiglitz & O'Keeffe

From: Judy Seigel ^lt;[email protected]>
Date: 05/25/04-09:06:40 PM Z
Message-id: <>

On Sun, 23 May 2004, PhotoGecko Austin wrote:
> I was gratified, reading O'Keeffe's criteria and criticism of
> photography as art. And I wondered (self-consciously) how much she was
> influenced by her critical artistic eye. . . and how much by her
> passion for Steiglitz.

I think Georgia's "passion" for Steiglitz had somewhat cooled by the time
these writings occurred... notice that she had to travel 2000 miles to get
away from him...

But generally, I feel it's incumbent on me to inject a sour note into this
discussion, which, except for that mean Kevin Morris, has been all
sweetness and light -- it's positively unsettling.

Of all the photographs I heartily dislike in this world (and there are
several) I find Steiglitz's artsy fartsy picture of Georgia O'Keefe's
fingernails which has recently degraded the United States mails on a 37
cent stamp, the most repellent (and intimated as much, albeit more
delicately, in a P-F #9 item showing it -- page 2.) There are a couple
more portraits of Georgia with her hands in supposedly sensitive rictus by
Steiglitz. Yuck.

As for the Equivalents. Here's an old joke:

Becky and Abie (or maybe it was Mo and Schmo) were looking at a sky full
of beautiful clouds. What does that cloud form remind you of, asks A.
Sexual intercourse, replies B. Then the winds blew and an entirely
different formation appeared. Same question. Same answer. This went on
for a while until A exploded: This doesn't look anything like the last
one. How can it remind you of sexual intercourse?!!? And B replies,
"Everything reminds me of sexual intercourse."

This is not a direct analogy to Steiglitz's cloud "equivalents," but it
makes the point that clouds look like whatever you want them to look like.
So Steiglitz says clouds are equivalent to emotions... hello?

I don't dismiss Steiglitz. Especially as a reader of the "regular"
photography magazines of his period, I appreciate his genius in Camera
Work (also Camera Notes). But that doesn't mean he wasn't off the wall at
times -- I think we talked about one of his photographs of the awkward
babe and her fistful of apples last year. And I think the conceit that
cloud forms are the "equivalent" of emotions is not his shining hour.
(Who else could have gotten away with it ?)

But those Georgia throat clutchings are the stuff of comedy.

Received on Tue May 25 21:07:04 2004

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