Georgia O’Keeffe: ‘I don’t mind it being pretty’

From-the-faraway-nearby-1937-by-georgia-okeeffeCraig Raine at the Times Literary Supplement:

O’Keeffe the academic painter is also a vestigial commercial artist. Just as she never completely left behind her early training, drawing from casts, so she suffered adéformation professionnelle from her relatively short period as a commercial artist in Chicago in 1908 – where she worked freelance for various agencies, drawing lace and embroidery for newspapers and magazines. Andy Warhol also began as a commercial artist, but his understanding of the relationship of commercial art to fine art is more subtle, more knowing, than hers. He realized that the difference was in the finish – that fine art had a rougher finish, that it disclosed the hand of the painter, whereas in commercial art the individual touch was smoothed away. Commercial art as vanishing cream. (It is telling that O’Keeffe in reproduction differs not at all from the originals. Unusually, when you encounter the pictures in person, what you have seen already is what you get.)

Accordingly, Warhol invented a drawing technique, a deliberately jagged line. This was achieved by inking over a pencil drawing, blotting it and discarding the original image. In this way, Warhol created the effect of the artist’s hand at work – the opposite of slick, machine-made art.

When Warhol was still a commercial artist, he drew a snake as a shoe for Arthur and Teddy Edelman who ran Fleming Joffe Leather. It is ingenious and witty. The snake outline is a continuous knot – to advertise a snakeskin shoe – but the marks representing texture go over the outline in places, lending it the look of something hand-crafted. O’Keeffe’s paintings are commercial in their care.

more here.