In November of 1925, Stieglitz & O’Keeffe moved in at the Shelton Hotel on Lexington Avenue, and become aquainted with a neighbor, Claude Bragdon, architect, writer and spiritualist in the circle of Krishnamurti, Ouspensky and Gurdjieff.

O’Keeffe: New York with Moon, 1925

The three artists often had breakfast together in the Shelton cafeteria on the 16th floor. O’Keeffe seems to have received information that she found very exciting from this mystical architect. In a letter to a friend she wrote, soon after she met Bragdon:

I am learning something about myself – I don’t know clearly what it is – but if I knew – if I could give it form it could cure you – it is laughable – but I am sure it is true.

At first glance, these paintings of buildings in the city wouldn’t necessarily pass for romantic. But the elements are there: heavenly bodies with special effects – sun, moon – the passionate longing and the scale of the buildings themselves. O’Keeffe’s New York paintings bear a pronounced romantic character. A higher placed, beaming blue sun with halo effects, centered like a shining icon against a clear, blue sky, can be seen in East River from the Shelton.

O’Keeffe: East River from the Shelton, 1927


Bragdon had written the introduction to Tertium Organum, by Ouspensky. The book was translated from Russian and was originally published in 1920. It deals with subjects like

  • The Mystery of Time and Space
  • Shadows and Reality
  • Occultism and Love
  • Animated Nature
  • Voices of the Stones
  • Mathematics of the Infinite
  • The Logic of Ecstasy
  • Mystical Theosophy
  • Cosmic Consciousness
  • The New Morality
  • Birth of the Superman

I have not read it myself yet, but you have to admit it sounds intriguing…


Tertium Organum can be read online here. 

Tertium Organum: Or, The Third Canon of Thought and a Key to the Enigmas of the World  (Introduction by Claude Bragdon.)

Tertium Organum: The Fourth Dimension as the Esoteric Nature of Reality (Forgotten Books)

Crystal and Arabesque: Claude Bragdon, Ornament, and Modern Architecture


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