Georgia O’Keeffe (left) and Simone de Beauvoir

One might well wonder what French existentialist philosopher and feminist Simone de Beauvoir and celebrated American painter Georgia O’Keeffe might have said to each other about Southwest landscapes and cultures. Although they never met (and may not have known each other’s work), these two influential women of the 20th century traveled through the state of New Mexico in the year 1947.

O’Keeffe was there just before returning to New York to settle the estate of her late husband, Alfred Stieglitz, while Simone de Beauvoir arrived in New Mexico just afterward, as she made her grand tour of the U.S. What brought them to this land, and in particular to the colorful town of Santa Fe with its indigenous populations?

Peg Brand Weiser will look at how their artistic creativity interacted with their cultural and philosophical penchants in a lecture Wednesday (March 21) at 3:30 p.m. in the ASA Great Room.

In paintings O’Keeffe depicted a Land of Enchantment, while Beauvoir’s written journalism, America Day by Day, told the story of a French woman’s first encounter with the wilds of the Southwest. The many letters written to the men they loved (photographer Alfred Stieglitz and existentialist Jean Paul Sartre) help us to understand how O’Keeffe and Beauvoir viewed the Southwest in philosophical, artistic and human terms.

Brand Weiser received her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her areas of specialization include aesthetics, feminist philosophy, the philosophy of sport, and bioethics. She has taught in the fields of philosophy and gender studies at Ohio State University, the University of Oregon, Indiana University Bloomington, IUPUI (Indiana University—Purdue University, Indianapolis), and is currently teaching at the University of Arizona in the Department of Philosophy.

Written by Leah Hewitt, Academy Village Volunteer


Two Famous Women Confront New Mexico:March 2018