Realist painter Andrew Wyeth died in his sleep at age 91 at his home in Chadds Ford, PA earlier this morning. Known throughout the world as a chronicler of life in and around his rural community outside Philadelphia and his paintings of Maine; most notably “Christina’s World” and the “Helga” paintings.
The son of the famed 19th and early 20th century illustrator, N.C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth, not unlike Norman Rockwell, has been accused of not being a ‘real’ artist by many art critics, but merely a facile illustrator, and the kiss of death, ‘a regionalist’. The late J. Carter Brown, who for many years was the director of the National Gallery in D.C. said that that dismissive talk was the knee-jerk reaction of critics and intellectuals who view any artist who is popular and financially successful as immediately suspect.
Major exhibits of his paintings normally draw huge crowds, oftentimes exceeding the participating museum’s ability to manage such turnouts. His exhibition of the “Helga” paintings was featured at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., but pointedly refused by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
[August 15, 2010: To my eternal chagrin, this post is the most popular post in my blog. I am gobsmacked by the amount of people who search for information on Andrew Wyeth on a daily basis; even joking once that each time someone searched online for information about Wyeth another term paper was due the next day.
All of that aside, I would like to take this opportunity to remind you to look not only at the work & life of Andrew Wyeth but also to search out & find information about his painter sister & her artist husband, Henrietta Wyeth & Peter Hurd and to not forget about Andrew’s son, Jamie Wyeth, all of whom deserve your consideration & appreciation.
Andrew Wyeth’s work is remarkable not only for its simplicity and unadorned beauty, but also for what many critics derided him for throughout his career & that is his staunch regionalism. Not unlike folk artists such as Grandma Moses, Wyeth hew closely to his homes (Pennsylvania & Maine) & his work is a dialogue between he and his neighbors, the land around him & his own personal thoughts. It’s those thoughts that are revealed in his palette & drawing style that bring such immediacy to the work. Consider it maudlin if you must, but you must also extend a tip of the hat to him for his single-mindedness.
I hope you’ll take the opportunity to explore my blog further. There are more posts about art, artists, collecting, critics along with posts about my own personal journey & life. Leave me a note if you feel so inclined as I always enjoy hearing from my readers.
All the best, Robert]