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Georgia O'Keeffe: "Non basta essere gentili nella vita. Devi avere coraggio"

"Un fiore è relativamente piccolo. Ognuno ha molte associazioni con un fiore - l'idea dei fiori. Allunghi la mano per toccare il fiore - ti pieghi in avanti per annusarlo - forse lo tocchi con le labbra quasi senza pensarci - o lo dai a qualcuno per compiacerlo. Eppure - in un certo senso - nessuno vede un fiore - davvero - è così piccolo - non abbiamo tempo - e per vedere ci vuole tempo, come per avere un amico ci vuole tempo... Così mi sono detto - Dipingerò quello che vedo - cos'è il fiore per me, ma lo dipingerò in grande e loro saranno sorpresi nel prendersi del tempo per guardarlo - farò in modo che anche i newyorkesi indaffarati si prendano del tempo per vedere quello che vedo dei fiori.. . Beh, ti ho fatto prendere del tempo per guardare ciò che ho visto e quando ti sei preso del tempo per notare davvero il mio fiore.".

"So che non posso dipingere un fiore. Non posso dipingere il sole nel deserto in una luminosa mattina d'estate, ma forse in termini di colore della pittura posso trasmetterti la mia esperienza del fiore o l'esperienza che rende il fiore significativo per me in quel particolare momento.".

"Il colore è una delle grandi cose del mondo che rende la vita degna di essere vissuta per me e poiché sono arrivato a pensare alla pittura, è il mio sforzo creare un equivalente con il colore della vernice per il mondo: la vita come la vedo io.".

"The meaning of a word - to me - is not as exact as the meaning of a colour. Colours and shapes make a more definite statement than words. I write this [1974] because such odd things have been done about me with words. I have often been told what to paint - I make this effort because no one else can know how my paintings happen".

"I don't really know where I got my artists idea. The scraps of what I remember do not explain to me where it came from. I only know that by this time [her eight grade's year] it was definitely settled in my mind".

"On the way I stood a moment looking out across the marshes with tall cattails, a patch of water, more marsh, then the woods with a few birch trees shining white at the edge on beyond. In the darkness it all looked just like I felt. Wet and swampy and gloomy, very gloomy. In the morning I painted it. My memory of it is that it was probably my best painting that summer".

"Those perilous climbings [with her sister Claudia, in the Palo Duro Canyon, 1916] were frightening, but it was wonderful to me and not like anything I had known before. The fright of the day was still with me in the night and I would often dream that the foot of my bed rose straight up into the air — then just as it was to fall I would wake up. Many drawings came from days like that, and later some oil paintings.".

"Bement [her art teacher] told me things to read. He told me of exhibitions to go and see [c. 1917].. ..the two books that he told me to get were Jeromy Eddy 'Cubists and Post-impressionism' and Kandinsky 'On the Spiritual of Art'... It was some time before I really begun to use the ideas. I didn't start at until I was down in Carolina - alone - thinking things out for myself.".

"Later I had two green ones [alligator pears] — not so perfect. I painted them several times [c. 1920] when the men [American modernist artists, a.o. Marsden Hartley ] didn't think much of what I was doing. They were all discussing Paul Cézanne, with long involved remarks about the 'plastic quality' of his form and colour. I was an outsider. My colour and form were not acceptable. It had nothing to do with Cézanne or anything else. I didn't understand what they were talking about why one colour was better than another.. .Years later when I finally got to Cézanne's Mont Sainte-Victoire in the south of France, I remember sitting there thinking, 'How could they attach all those analytical remarks to anything he did with that mountain?' All those entire words piled on top of that poor little mountain seemed too much.".

"The clean clear colours [of a Shanty farm] were in my head. But one day as I looked at the brown burned wood of the Shanty, I thought 'I can paint one of those dismal-coloured paintings like the men. I think just for fun I will try - all low-toned and dreary with the tree besides the door.' In my next show [c. 1923], 'The Shanty' went up. The men seemed to approve of it. They seemed to think that maybe I was beginning to paint.. ..that was my only low-toned dismal-coloured painting.".

"I painted 'the Shelton with Sunspots' [New York], in 1926. I went out one morning to look at it before I started to work and there was the optical illusion of a bite out of one side of the tower made by the sun, with sunspots against the building and against the sky. I made that painting beginning at the upper left and went off at the lower right without going back.".

"I find that I have painted my life, things happening in my life — without knowing. After painting the Shell and shingle [c, 1926] many times, I did a misty landscape of the mountain across the lake, and the mountain became the shape of the shingle — the mountain I saw out my window, the shingle on the table in my room. I did not notice that they were alike for a long time after they were painted.".

"After I had been in Canada painting the wide white barns along the Saint Lawrence river, I thought how different the life of the Canadian farmer was from life in Cebolla. So I painted [in 1945] the Cebolla church which is so typical of that difficult life. I have always thought it one of my very good paintings, though its message is not as pleasant as many of the others.".

"There are people who have made me see shapes — and others I thought of a great deal, even people I have loved, who make me see nothing. I have painted portraits that to me are almost photographic. I remember hesitating to show the paintings, they looked so real to me. But they have passed into the world as abstractions - no one seeing what they are.".

"I don't remember where I picked up the head - or the hollyhock. Flowers were planted among the vegetables in the garden between the house and the hills and I probably picked the hollyhock one day as I walked past. My paintings sometimes grow by pieces from what is around.. .I have used these things to say what is to me the wideness and wonder of the world as I live in it.".

"It is surprising to me to see how many people separate the objective from the abstract. Objective painting is not good painting unless it is good in the abstract sense. A hill or tree cannot make a good painting just because it is a hill or a tree. It is lines and colours put together so that they say something. For me that is the very basis of painting. The abstraction is often the most definite form for the intangible thing in myself that I can only clarify in paint. … I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way — things I had no words for.".

"The unexplainable thing in nature that makes me feel the world is big fat beyond my understanding — to understand maybe by trying to put it into form. To find the feeling of infinity on the horizon line or just over the next hill.".