cover image Georgia O'Keeffe: A Life

Georgia O'Keeffe: A Life

Roxana Robinson. HarperCollins Publishers, $25 (639pp) ISBN 978-0-06-015965-8

This biography, the first to draw on sources unavailable during O'Keeffe's lifetime--and the first to be granted her family's cooperation--offers a persuasive feminist analysis of the life and work of an iconic figure in American art. Inspired by strong women in a Midwestern family that stressed a sturdy sense of self-reliance, O'Keeffe bucked oppressive social conventions to become one of the first female American artists to lead a professionally successful and emancipated life. But along the way lay struggle: O'Keeffe had to fight for emotional and artistic independence in her public and private lives, experiencing particular difficulties in her relationships with men, most notably her benefactor and husband, photographer Alfred Stieglitz. Novelist Robinson's ( Summer Light ) detailed, sensitive critique of O'Keeffe's work, tracing the development of the artist's esthetic, alternates with an absorbing, intimate narrative of O'Keeffe's personal life (including her notorious relationship with Juan Hamilton, six decades her junior, and the public battle over her estate) to provide a resourceful, imaginatively rendered portrait of a dauntingly difficult subject. Photos not seen by PW. BOMC alternate. (Oct.)