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Stieglitz & O'Keeffe

The first time Stieglitz saw O’Keeffe’s work, he made the famous exclamation—‘Finally, a woman on paper!’—that tied a knot between the photographer-impresario and the talented younger painter.  Stieglitz gave O’Keeffe’s work a crucial endorsement, and O’Keeffe gave Stieglitz the business opportunity of promoting a talented female artist, as well as the artistic opportunity to take unprecedentedly intimate nude photos of a young lover who gave herself to his camera.

This arrangement was complicated when Stieglitz had an affair with his assistant Paul Strand’s wife Beck, then as he took a much-younger admirer, Dorothy Norman as a long-term lover. These affairs drove O’Keeffe to Maine and then in 1929, to New Mexico with Beck Strand, but she still worked closely with Stieglitz, running galleries and mounting shows of her work.  O’Keeffe ultimately stayed away from Stieglitz for long periods, but as she put it in a letter:

“I believe it was the work that kept me with him – though I loved him as a human being. I put up with what seemed to me a good deal of contradictory nonsense because of what seemed clear and bright and wonderful.”

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