Her incredible art, her battle against gender bias, her vivid and inspiring correspondence, her fierce and sensual beauty and her impeccable, understated taste in wardrobe...there's a lot that one could talk about when it comes to Georgia O'Keeffe.
Well, she was a lover and a loner and New Mexico stole her heart.
And it was there, in the North of New Mexico that she spent the last forty years of her life, in quiet but creative isolation and in two incredibly beautiful houses, of which I’m sharing a few images of today.
Rancho de los Burros at Ghost Ranch
“To me it is the best place in the world,” O’Keeffe said of Ghost Ranch, of which she first purchased a very small piece of land in 1940.
“It has always been secluded and solitary. When I first went there, it was only one house with one room—which had a ghost living in it.
As soon as I saw it, I knew I must have it”
But Rancho de los Burros was barren and a place for summer, so in 1945 Georgia bought a second piece of land in the village of Abiquiú.
Three acres, including a crumbling adobe home and the possibility of planting a garden.
She spent three years remodelling and rebuilding the house and after her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, passed away, O’Keeffe left New York to make Abiquiú her permanent home.
Abiquiú house- Outside
"When I got to New Mexico, that was mine. As soon as I saw it, that was my country.
I’d never seen anything like it before, but it fitted to me exactly.
It’s something that’s in the air, it’s just different.
The sky is different, the stars are different, the wind is different.
I feel at home here – I feel quiet – my skin feels close to the earth when I walk out into the red hills …"
Abiquiú house- Patio and Atelier
Abiquiú house- Studio
After fully moving here, Georgia would sign her letters to the people she loved with “from the faraway nearby”, a beautiful oxymoron, enveloping physical distance as well as emotional closeness.
One can be inspired by the absolute beauty of the distance and yet remain close to the ones we love, in our hearts and minds.
Abiquiú house- Living Room
Abiquiú house- Dining Room
Abiquiú house- Kitchen and Pantry
Abiquiú house- Bedroom
O'Keeffe did not bring antiques to Santa Fe, she worked with what she had and mixed modern and adobe with found objects.
The patent-leather blackout curtains in her bedroom however, are a flash of her New York days.
I love the detail of the Buddha hand in Abhaya mudrā pose ( right hand held upright, with the palm facing outwards) a gesture of fearlessness.
It reminds me of one of my favourite quotes by Georgia O’Keeffe:
“I’ve always been absolutely terrified every single moment of my life and I’ve never let it stop me from doing a single thing I wanted to do”
In her paintings, Georgia O’Keeffe immortalised the dramatic landscape surrounding her homes, in all its shifting colours and moods
In her houses, she managed to create an extraordinary calm.
And in her words, she left us with wise thoughts to delve into:
"I feel there is something unexplored about woman that only a woman can explore.”
“Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant—there is no such thing.
Making your unknown known is the important thing—and keeping the unknown always beyond you…”
May we all have the courage to explore our personal and unique unknown, while also having a safe haven from which we can admire our surroundings.
*Photographs by Tony Vaccaro, Yousuf Karsh, Balthazar Korab, Herbert Lotz, Todd Webb, John Loengard, Brittany Ambridge, Arnold Newman and Laura Gilpin.
Sourced from various locations, please click to enlarge.