In July of 1946, Stieglitz passed away at age 82.
That fall, Georgia spent in Abiquiu and as the winter snow began to cover the high desert landscape, she painted the powerful, quietly soaring black bird against a blue sky.
The bird is placed very high up in the picture, overviewing the world, rising and soaring as if the bird would be on its way out of the picture.
The Black Bird gives me associations to a picture of Stieglitz in his black cloak. Maybe deep inside, the White Georgia, felt as dazzlingly lonely and still like the snow, emotionally frozen like the icy landscape, that her old promoter, mentor and passionate friend was gone.
This painting seems to be a farewell to Alfred Stieglitz.
The bird ‘stieglitz’ is actually a symbol of the suffering of Christ, or resurrection. Considering that Stieglitz was a symbolist he may have liked the symbolism in a more poetic sense, even though he was jewish. If he could identify with a tree, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that he at one time or another compared himself with a bird, since his name even carried that meaning.
Kandinsky on White
Kandinsky says about white, that it sometimes is not a color at all, but a symbol from a world where color has disappeared. This world is too high above us to be able to touch our souls.
Please take note of the poetic, but still concrete connection you can make in O’Keeffe’s painting, to his words:
A great silence, like an impenetrable wall, shrouds its life from our understanding. White, therefore, has this harmony of silence, which works upon us negatively, like many pauses in music that break temporarily the melody. It is not a dead silence, but one pregnant with possibilities. White has the appeal of the nothingness that is before birth, of the world in the ice age.
A totally dead silence, on the other hand, a silence with no possibilities, has the inner harmony of black. In music it is represented by one of those profound and final pauses, after which any continuation of the melody seems the dawn of another world. Black is something burnt out, like the ashes of a funeral pyre, something motionless like. Kandinsky