December 10, 2016

Painting With The Girls 345

December 10, 2016

Day 345 (21 days to go)

Half Pole Flag for Pearl Harbor

Manipulated photo, 5X7, matted

Part VII

In the last three decades of Georgia O’Keeffe’s life, she experienced a resurgence of recognition in the art world and her exhibits became more frequent. Andy Warhol later said that even though she still painted when he met her in the 1960’s, he felt she was clueless as to what else was happening in the arts.

In 1967, her friend Anita Pollitzer, who had been working on Georgia’s biography for fifteen years, came forward to ask her old friend permission to publish it. Georgia read it and replied negatively. Their fifty-year-old relationship ended and Anita died in 1974. Anita’s family later published the book in 1988 right after Georgia’s death.

For the last two decades of her life an artist named Juan Hamilton assisted her. He started as a carpenter, but became indispensable to all of Georgia’s needs. Being an artist himself he understood the demands of her life.  To the very end of her life he was in charge of her exhibits, sales and all of her correspondence.

He also became a very close friend and travel companion. He helped her disguise her rapid loss of sight and to deal with the growing annoyance of being constantly approached by the paparazzi and the media. In her mid nineties, she was still painting with the assistance of several members of her staff. Several gardeners later revealed that they had acted as her eyes as she asked them to tell her if the paint was even or her lines properly placed. Juan being a sculptor himself introduced Georgia to ceramics and taught her how to work with clay. She still spent as much time in her studio creating shapes similar to those in her paintings. In the last three years of her life, her health deteriorated and she became confused and disoriented and showed signs of dementia.

Nearing her death, Juan persuaded Georgia to sign documents of her will. These changes would have benefited Juan by an extra 65 million dollars, but Georgia’s nephew Ray Krueger, later reversed that decision.

Juan who was included in her will, claimed he was just protecting her art and making sure it would end up donated to museums. After her death, Juan still worked for many years on her exhibits and estate. Her friends and family all agreed that Juan’s assistance allowed Georgia to continue her work and enjoy quality of life nearly the day of her death in 1986.