NEW YORK — A fascinating look into the reclusive life of American modernist icon Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) from the perspective of correspondence with her longtime travel agent came to market October 26 at Swann Auction Galleries. Four lots of mostly handwritten documents retained by the agency all exceeded their estimates. Complete results for the Fine Books & Autographs sale are now available at LiveAuctioneers.

The lifetime output of O’Keeffe, spanning realism and abstractionism in both photography and paintings, makes her difficult to define. Her marriage to photographer Alfred Stieglitz in New York helped propel her to fame, but her true muse would come in the form of the American Southwest, where she ultimately settled and spent the rest of her life creating iconic pieces such as Cow’s Skull and Summer Days.

Though situated in New Mexico at her Abiquiú home and studio, O’Keeffe kept up a travel schedule associated with gallery exhibitions, visits to other artists, and similar business-oriented callings. As revealed in the dozens of letters sent to her travel agent Donald Ferguson, O’Keeffe used the occasions to arrange travel as a cover for reaching out and dispensing both mundane and heartfelt musings on her life and loves. The excerpts provided by Swann show a remarkable intimacy on the part of O’Keeffe with regard to her travel agent and his employees, feeling free to discuss whatever she needed to communicate.

Some excerpts include:

I just wrote these two pages of Biographical Data–if you want to call it that–throw it in the waste basket if you want to–I don’t care.

I am a painter–always have been.

I have had large retrospective exhibitions at the Chicago Art Institute, The Museum of Modern Art of N.Y. and at present have twelve paintings hanging at the Metropolitan Museum, N.Y. It is an exhibition of Fourteen Americans–from Colonial Times to today. I lived in N.Y. City from 1918 ’till 1950 and had exhibitions almost every year.

Now I live in the country 100 miles from the railroad station–60 miles from an airport. I have no telephone and think I have a very good life. . . .

I have no radio–no television–but I have a very good Hifidelity setup. Monteverdi is my favorite composer.

I like my garden, my dogs: I prefer dark–black or blue–chows and I like to walk.

I usually get up before sunrise in the morning. When my city friends ask what I do evenings I always have to laugh–I work hard and I am usually so tired I have to go to bed.

I would rather live where I live than any other place I have ever seen. Maybe going ’round the world I may find something better, but I doubt it. . .

The top O’Keeffe lot was an archive of 47 items, most written by hand and generally signed G. OK. The material ranged in age from the late 1950s through the mid-1960s and while discussing travel, her letters would invariably veer into personal musings that must have been fascinating and a little perplexing to Ferguson and his staff. Estimated at $15,000-$25,000, the lot hammered at $90,000 and sold for $117,000 with buyer’s premium.

Hammering at $26,000 and selling for $33,800 with buyer’s premium was a two-item lot from which the quotes above were drawn. Dozens of floor bids kept the lot climbing until the moment of sale.

A letter to Ferguson discussing an upcoming Worcester, Massachusetts O’Keeffe retrospective in 1960 also included a signed passport photograph showing the aged artist scowling at the camera. It hammered for $9,000 and sold for $11,700 with buyer’s premium.