Sunday, July 24, 2005

Pure Sex

When the door opens, of sensuality,
then you will understand it too. The struggle begins.
Never again to be free of it,
often you will feel it to be your enemy.
you will almost suffocate
such joy it brings.

Rukeyser 1968

The first time I ever saw an exhibit of O’Keefe paintings I gasped out loud at the pure “sex” of it. Granted I was a child girl and the pure sex of anything excited and terrified me. One of the greatest disservices we have done to art, in my opinion, is to objectify it. The O’Keefe you see on coffee mugs, calendars is not the art hanging on the wall. I have seen the difference and the space is immeasurable.

It is rumored, Millay and O’Keefe had a writing affair that the two minds interacted so well but were separated at the time by distance and convention. I have once read Millay under her paintings. I can see the attraction.

The pure sex of a poem has nothing to do, (again my opinion) with being sexy, one can see a vagina in O’Keefe’s paintings yet the painting is not truly about the anatomy of a woman’s body. When art posses the pure sex of itself it is doing nothing more than taking you to the deepest part, its origin. It moves by its simplicity. The rules are not complicated. No one has good sex by thinking about it. No one feels comfortable in their sensuality by saying, today I will feel comfortable. It is the act of being present, of allowing yourself to be stripped (no irony here) of outer layers.

There will always be those who confuse pure sex with the act. Who claim the sexuality of a poem or art has to do with the erotic. I have found the two very rarely even hold hands. When we do this, we limit our possibility. We say there can be no love unless we close the distance and modify the convention.


Maya said...

hello and first let me agree with the below that your daughters are radiant

second, I first came across this post this morning and have since been back to read it many times trying to determine why it distresses me. millay and o'keefe were both famous convention-flouters for one, and I believe both were openly bi. I agree that sex isn't just about the act but your last sentence seems (forgive me if I am off-base) very heterosexist. as a lesbian woman of color, choosing not to "modify convention" is not an option for me. I also believe that one of the excellent possibilities of art is the opportunity to bridge distances and challenge convention, and that both millay and o'keefe did this...?

early hours of sky said...

Oh I don’t assume to say that Millay or O’Keefe didn’t do this but also as artist we can do this on some level and not others. Millay stayed married as she carried on all her trysts as did O’Keefe and I am btw, not saying that is wrong but there is convention in it. And I also know many lesbians of color who choose areas in their life to ride convention. You assume I am heterosexual/white b/c ???? I have blond daughters and society has offered you that convention?

I don’t think my post was trying to say any of the above. There’s a Buddhist principle that states one must be aware of the walls imposed around god so that they can be removed. God to me is art. We must look at the way we box art in, the walls we impose to be capable to remove them.

Welcome to the blog and I hope I did not offend you in any way. I love these types of discussions.

Maya said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Charles said...

I just visited the O'Keeffe museum in Santa Fe last weekend and got to see a pretty wide cross section of her work.

One thing I noticed is that nothing has an outline--she just uses subtle changes in color to indicate edges, and I think that's one thing that contributes to the sensuality of her work.

My favorites are "Black Iris VI" and "Red Canna."

early hours of sky said...

Charlie I have been there and yes, black iris is one of my favorites also.

Pearl said...

Isn't that funny. I've never been able to see the sensuality or sex in her paintings. Wonder why.

iamnasra said...

This is really amazingly written..The poem and your point of view of the paiting and poem