This French writer and actress was one of my favorite writers for a period. Her work was looked down upon much the way some women's fiction or romance novels are looked down on in our day. But she didn't care! She loved life! Loved love affairs with whomever she fancied. She had a thing for French Bulldogs and Russian Blue cats neither of which she was ever without and both of whom she wrote about. One of her books, Un Dialogue de Bêtes or Dialogue of Animals, is told by a cat and a dog. She spoke to some part of my twenty year old soul - something about how being free-spirited was quite all right.
Georgia O'Keefe was the first female American painter (besides Mary Cassatt) to actually show up in male-written Art History textbooks. She's also one of the first women painters to end up in major museums, and thank goodness, while she was still living. I love that she was an art teacher when she started out, and that she was totally comfortable leaving Alfred Steiglitz (her photographer husband) in New York while she moved to the landscape of New Mexico. Georgia O'Keefe was a purist to herself - that's what inspires me about her. She knew what she wanted and she wasn't afraid to make it happen.
Another French writer, Anais Nin. I went through my Henry Miller and Anais Nin phase shortly after my Collette phase (interestingly enough, Anais Nin was one of the writers who poo-poo'ed Colette). But something about this women's strength and beauty with words wormed its way inside. Anais managed to hang onto herself in the midst of Henry and June's debauchery. Like any good writer, she seemed to take everything from a place up on the wall, observing, letting life settle, then acting. Her mysterious, careful approach is one I've long admired, though not always replicated.
Beatrice Wood or Beato
Beato is an American potter who only died in 1998. She was born to a society family in NYC but kind of waved her elegant hand at the whole thing. She insisted on going to France for art school until World War 1 forced her return. She became Marcel Duchamp's lover and is sometimes called "The Mama of Dada" for her work during that time on Duchamp and Roche's magazine, The Blind Man.
What I love about Beato is her joy at the world around her. Everything she did was infused with a sense of youth and gaiety. One of her most famous quotes about her longevity (she lived to be 105) was "I owe it all to chocolate and young men."
I came so close to meeting her, even drove to the mouth of her driveway in Ojai, California, but appointments to meet her and see the studio were set months in advance and we were there on a whim. But my mother did get to meet her, and bought signed copies of her autobiographies for me.
If you've never heard of Beato, I suggest you read her stories. Especially if you are interested in art and spirituality.
So, what about you? Do you have a crush on someone from history?
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