Toward the end of her life, Georgia O’Keeffe was visited in New Mexico by Gloria Steinem, who showed up at her door with a bouquet of roses. The artist refused to see her. She had no intention of endorsing the ideals of the women’s movement, though that didn’t keep the women’s movement from endorsing her. With the rise of feminism in the Sixties, O’Keeffe’s famously self-reliant life was held up as an exemplar of liberated behavior; her reputation, which had fallen off during the heyday of Abstract Expressionism, suddenly began to climb. Since her death in 1986, at the age of ninety-eight, the artist has become more celebrated than ever. Currently, she’s the subject of a new biography that runs more than six hundred pages, as well as a five-pound monograph (not to mention a 1990 calendar and appointment book published by Knopf). If O’Keeffe has become a virtual folk hero, it’s not...

 

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