Correspondence Between Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O’Keeffe Published
A much-anticipated collection of letters written between the photographer, Alfred Stieglitz, and the painter, Georgia O’Keeffe, have been published in a first volume, called My Faraway One: Selected Letters of Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz.
The first volume contains 650 letters written from 1915-1933—a drop in the bucket considering that the couple exchanged 5,000 letters (25,000 sheets of paper) until 1946, when Stieglitz passed away, and single letters between the two could run 40 pages in length.
The collection provides a firsthand look into the couple’s life on Lake George, as many of the letters were either written or received from Alfred Stieglitz’s estate on the lake.
Stieglitz’s family first came to Lake George to stay at the Fort William Henry Hotel in the 1880s. In 1886, his father acquired the estate north of Lake George Village and named it Oaklawn. Stieglitz spent every summer there until his death.
Stieglitz brought O’Keeffe to Oaklawn in 1918, three years after they had exchanged their first letter. In 1924, Stieglitz and O’Keeffe married, and they built art studios at a farmhouse across the road from Stieglitz’s estate.
O’Keeffe had been to Lake George before, in 1908, having been awarded a grant from the Art Student’s League which allowed her to stay at the art colony of Amitola. The colony, on the east end of Lake George, was buried in one hundred acres of forest.
In September of 1927, Stieglitz noted the coincidence in a letter with childlike glee.
“It’s queer that you should have lived directly opposite to our place here when you spent the summer at Lake George. – Last year friends of my mother’s had that place – the Trasks – & I was there once & they showed me ‘where some students had once lived.’ – Little did I then dream that one of them would mean so much to me – & in so near a future!”
During their summers at Lake George, both Stieglitz and O’Keeffe turned to the landscape for subject matter. Stieglitz spent many years photographing clouds, while O’Keeffe painted the countryside and the hills.
In one letter, Stieglitz even uses the lake to describe how he feels about O’Keeffe’s work.
“Perhaps some of your work means much more to me than it does to you. – In the sense that the Lake is everlastingly living to me – every moment – and it always strikes me with wonder & a quieting sensation – Even when it is in a turmoil as it is at present!”
The collection is edited and annotated by photography historian Sarah Greenborough, who is the head of the photograph department at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.
“My Faraway One, Selected Letters of Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz: Volume One, 1915-1933,” is published by Yale University Press. It can be purchased through Trees in Bolton Landing or Red Fox Books in Glens Falls.