The Poppy of Georgia O'Keeffe
(by Janine Pommy Vega)
In the carmine extravagance
the skirts of a Spanish dancer swirl
flamenco rhythms, castanets
drumming her heels on a wooden floor
staccato barks, deep intricate guitars
the energy pulsing from the dark
surrounds and enters
The poppy is wide open
her petals curve
like the skirts of a mountain
filled with the morning sun
and reaching the pinnacle shout
like the flower
in strict discipline, in eloquent satori
in the wild grace of black and red.
(from The Green Piano, David Godine Publishing, 2005)
- O’Keeffe painted flowers before 1924, but she later enlarged their scale, so “even busy New Yorkers” would take time to look at them.
- In O’Keeffe’s era, women were often viewed in terms of their biology. A contemporary critic had once remarked that her flowers had “the air of self-portraits.”
- O'Keeffe's Poppy from 1927, more large and menacing than her previous flowers, might be seen as her response to critics who interpreted her previous work narrowly in terms of her sexuality / biology.
- O'Keeffe's husband and art dealer Alfred Stieglitz referred to this painting as “that wild red picture.”
(adapted from http://mfastpete.org/obj/poppy/)