Artworks
Sky Above Clouds IV
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ssohail's picture

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Seems like everyone I know, at some point in their life, can been charged guilty of taking the lift-off photo...and Georgie O’Keeffe’s no exception.

You know the one. The essential flying sky-high above the clouds cell phone shot, no doubt taken while obnoxiously leaning across two strangers from your aisle seat. It lets your followers know you're artistic! And well-traveled! The difference is that O’Keeffe didn’t have an iPhone to snap a pic from a plane, and that’s probably a good thing. Because if she did capture the moment for Instagram (#cloudporn), we’d be deprived of this far more monumental view from the top. Guess it pays to be deprived of the quick, easy and disposable methods that modern-day technology provides...sometimes.

During the 1950’s, O’Keeffe was kind of a frequent flier. Living in New Mexico and having a hubby in New York (Alfred Stieglitz) will do that. Her cloudy experiences began to manifest themselves on small canvases at first, the poufy clusters realistically rendered. By the time she was 77 though, she reduced the image of the clouds to amorphous white splotches, but went Godzilla size-wise. She eventually worked all the way up to this staggering 24 ft. long canvas! The stylized clouds create a peaceful pattern that stretches lazily across the long canvas- a seemingly endless expanse that’s often compared to Claude Monet’s Water Lilies, though probably as much for its length as its serenity.

O’Keeffe had to work all summer in her blazing hot New Mexico garage to get this painting done before the cold and snow set in. Aren’t deserts fun? Even then, at night the unheated garage could get nippy, but the physicality of the task kept her sweating - the sheer size of the canvas called for some serious painting acrobatics. No stunt doubles here, O’Keeffe did everything from climbing a ladder, standing on a chair, sitting on a chair, standing on a platform, standing on a box and then finally, lying on the floor to get to the bottom of the canvas. Phew! My abs hurt just thinking about it.  And that last part on the ground she did fearlessly, in spite of the imminent threat of rattlesnakes that often wandered in through the open garage door. All in all, slightly more challenging than choosing a filter.