Self-Made Hero’s Art Masters range of graphic novels has some impressive entries – Basquiat, Pablo, Vincent, Dali, Warhol, Gauguin, Munch, Magritte, Diego Rivera – but with Georgia Keefe, Maria Herreros succeeds in getting the first female artist in the series (if you don’t include the towering presence of Frida Kahlo in the Rivera book) and for that alone she warrants kudos.
We came to this book not knowing an awful lot about O’Keefe other than what we gleaned reading DeLillo’s Underworld some years back. Fresh on the heels of reading Caryn Rose’s Why Patti Smith Matters, this is another book that will open your eyes and have you asking yourself (if you don’t already know this stuff) why don’t I already know this stuff?
O’Keefe was born in 1887 and lived up to the ripe old age of 99 – between those two points she painted art of the most striking variety and lived a bold life completely unafraid of the kind of strictures that polite society puts in place for itself. Whether it’s the ever so slightly unforgiving and devil may care way in which she made her art (irrespective of the opinions of others, which is just the way I want my art to be made), the relationship she embarked upon with married man Alfred Stieglitz and the friendship that eventually grew out of that relationship (not to mention the photographs the two of them worked up) or the life that she went on to lead (she comes across in Herrero’s book as a woman who had firmly made her peace with the old adage about having the dignity to accept what you can’t change etc).
Herrero’s artwork is similarly uncompromising – you can tell she wants the book to be both respectful but also inspired by the spirit of O’Keefe. And just as the book gives you a terrific introduction to the life and work of a giant of the art world, so it also leaves you hankering for more stories in the Art Master series about transgressive female artists. We’d also like to see a lot more from Herreros herself.
Any Cop?: We always enjoy Self-Made Hero’s Art Masters series but, with Georgia O’Keefe, we might have to say that we’ve read our favourite so far.