Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Georgia O'Keeffe, 89. soon to be 90, was in town Wednesday at the National Gallery Art. The hundreds there will tell their grandchildren they saw her. She is perhaps the finest landscape painter of our age. She strode across the plaza carrying a cane she had no need to use. She looked strong, spry, heartbreakingly beautiful.
"I have been very fortunate," she said.
That's a way of putting it. She has had, from the beginning, clear-sightedness, good humor, unassailable integrity. Maybe she was lucky in her choice of husbands - the photographer, and thinker, and seer, Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946). Maybe she was lucky in her choice of landscapes. She did not pick the Rockies, the city or the ocean. She picked the carved Southwest. ("The cliffs there are almost pinted for you. You think. Until you try," she said.) She was lucky in her strength, her beauty and her timing. Some luck is earned, deserved.
'I can imagine being a very much better painter and nobody noticing," she said. "But I've been in touch with my time."
The occasion was a preview of the made-for-television portrait that will air next Tuesday evening, the day that she turns 90, on PBS, from 8 to 9 p.m. It is not a splendid movie, but that does not matter, its subject is so fine. We hear her talk, we see her house, her dog, her landscape. And we see her face.