A captivating, spirited account of the intense relationship among four artists whose strong personalities, passionate feelings, and aesthetic ideals drew them together, pulled them apart, and profoundly influenced the very shape of twentieth-century art.
New York, 1921: Alfred Stieglitz, the most influential figure in early twentieth-century photography, celebrates the success of his latest exhibition--the centerpiece, a series of nude portraits of the young Georgia O'Keeffe, soon to be his wife. It is a turning point for O'Keeffe, poised to make her entrance into the art scene--and for Rebecca Salsbury, the fiancée of Stieglitz's protégé at the time, Paul Strand. When Strand introduces Salsbury to Stieglitz and O'Keeffe, it is the first moment of a bond between the two couples that will last more than a decade and reverberate throughout their lives. In the years that followed, O'Keeffe and Stieglitz became the preeminent couple in American modern art, spurring each other's creativity. Observing their relationship led Salsbury to encourage new artistic possibilities for Strand and to rethink her own potential as an artist. In fact, it was Salsbury, the least known of the four, who was the main thread that wove the two couples' lives together. Carolyn Burke mines the correspondence of the foursome to reveal how each inspired, provoked, and unsettled the others while pursuing seminal modes of artistic innovation. The result is a surprising, illuminating portrait of four extraordinary figures.
About the Author
CAROLYN BURKE is the author of No Regrets: The Life of Edith Piaf, Lee Miller: A Life (finalist for the NBCC), and Becoming Modern: The Life of Mina Loy. Born in Sydney, Australia, she now lives in Santa Cruz, California.
"Fascinating ... compelling ... thoroughly researched and capacious."--Wendy Lesser, The Wall Street Journal
"Deeply researched and richly imagined ... Burke focuses on two marriages in a way that amplifies the personal and artistic lives of a quartet of painters and photographers and magnifies their powerful influence on 20th-century art ... ingenious."--The National Book Review
"Expert and enthralling ... illuminates key intimate and historical aspects of the lives of four extraordinarily creative, intrepid, and influential artists to profound effect."--Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)
"Fascinating, well-told."--Sarah Boxer, The New York Times Book Review
"[A] sharp-eyed group portrait of two artistic couples ... [Burke depicts] in rich detail the complex interactions among four vibrant people during a seminal era in American culture--a task she accomplishes in astute, lucid prose."--Wendy Smith, The Washington Post
"Seasoned biographer Burke ... chronicles the intertwined lives of four 20th-century influencers who propelled American photography and painting through momentous decades ... solidly researched."--Library Journal
"Intimate and exhaustively researched ... offers detailed insight into one of the most important periods in American art."--Publishers Weekly
"A well-researched account of sensual artists."--Kirkus