Yesterday the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico netted a cool $44.4 million at auction for one of their masterpieces, O’Keeffe’s Jimson Weed. That more than doubled the amount ever paid for a work by a female artist, and was much trumpeted for that fact.
I love that painting. It’s worth the money, if one’s got the money. But there are a couple of points that bother me about all this. A lot. First is the fact that the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum exists to guard and preserve the works of the eponymous artist. So they’re selling what is one of her greatest paintings? This is to guard her legacy? How?
The stated purpose of the sale was to increase their acquisition fund. Acquisition of what? Paintings by Lucian Freud? (In case it just slipped your mind, he’s the male artist one of whose works went for the most money ever paid at auction for an art work.) Which brings me to the second bothersome point.
News stories prominently headlined the word “female”. The most money ever paid for female art, they proclaimed. Like paint tubes perform differently for male and female artists? Or brushes? Or canvas? Hmmm? I thought by the 21st century we were past this “men are the artists, women are the muses” nonsense. Guess not.
Okay, rant over, because what I really want to do in this post is to pass on some inspiring and challenging words spoken by the artist herself:
“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life — and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”
Georgia O’Keeffe was one tough lady. She lived to 98, and lived the life she wanted to. The quote surprised me, though. I knew her biography, and knew how strong she was. But I had thought it was a piece of cake for her to live her own life, because she was so strong. Until I read her words, it never occurred to me that she paid a price for it. That maybe I was reading things backward; that she was so strong because she lived her own life!
For me, inclined to timidity and people-pleasing, bedeviled by phobias (elevators, locks on bathroom doors, heights), terror often stops me from doing what I want to do. Sometimes it even stops me from being fully aware of what I really want to do. That this was the case for one of my heroines never even occurred to me.
Now that it has occurred to me, I wonder if it will make a difference?
How is it for you? Is fear a stranger to you? Or do you, in the words of the adage, “feel the fear and do it anyway?” What part does fear and trembling play in your life, and how do you deal with it?