Portrait of Andrew Wyeth by his son Jamie Wyeth
Winter 1946, a self portrait of when Andrew Wyeth (American, 1917-2009) was a boy running in a brown field of dead and dormant grass, a short distance from where his father, N.C. Wyeth, was killed when his stalled car was hit by a train, now hangs in the North Carolina Museum of Art.
(Wyatt Sanderman Day at betterangelsnow.com)
Christina's World, 1948
Tempera on gessoed panel
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
The woman in the painting is Christina Olson (May 3, 1893 — January 27, 1968). She suffered from polio, a muscular deterioration that paralyzed her lower body. Wyeth was inspired to create the painting when through a window from within the house he saw her crawling across a field. Wyeth had a summer home in the area and was on friendly terms with Olson, using her and her younger brother as the subject of paintings from 1940 to 1968. Although Olson was the inspiration and subject of the painting, she was not the primary model — Wyeth's wife Betsy posed as the torso of the painting. Olson was 55 at the time Wyeth created the work.
The house depicted in the painting is known as the Olson House, and is located in Cushing, Maine. It is open to the public as a part of the Farnsworth Museum complex; it is a National Historic Landmark, and has been restored to match its appearance in the painting.] In the painting, Wyeth separated the house from its barn and changed the lay of the land.
Anna Christina Olson (1893-1968) was a lifelong resident of the Cushing, Maine farm pictured in Christina's World. She had a degenerative muscular disorder (undiagnosed, but sometimes identified as polio) that took away her ability to walk by the late 1920s. Eschewing a wheelchair, she crawled around the house and grounds.
Wyeth, who had summered in Maine for many years, met the spinster Olson and her bachelor brother, Alvaro, in 1939. The three were introduced by Wyeth's future wife, Betsy James (b. 1922), another long-term summer resident. It's hard to say what fired the young artist's imagination more: the Olson siblings or their residence.
We have three here, actually. The figure's wasted limbs and pink dress belong to Christina Olson. The youthful head and torso, however, belong to Betsy Wyeth who was then in her mid-20s (as opposed to Christina's then-mid-50s).
The most famous "model" in this scene is the Olson farmhouse itself, on the National Register of Historic Places since 1995.
(Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth by Shelley Esaak, About.com Guide)
Christina Olson of Cushing, at the end of Hathorn Point, was his most famous model, but over the years, Wyeth formed close friendships with – and painted – several other Maine neighbors. His closest friend, Walt Anderson, gradually ages before the eyes of viewers in numerous Wyeth drawings and paintings that show life’s changes from the youthful Young Swede (1939) to the older man in Adrift (1982).
A painter of landscape and figure subjects in Pennsylvania and Maine, Andrew Wyeth became one of the best-known American painters of the 20th century. His style is both realistic and abstract, and he works primarily in tempera and watercolor, often using the dry brush technique.
He is the son of Newell Convers and Carolyn Bockius Wyeth of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and was home-schooled because of delicate health. His art instruction came from his famous-illustrator father, who preached the tying of painting to life–to mood and to essences and to capturing the subtleties of changing light and shadows.
Up in the Studio
Andrew Wyeth was tutored solely by his father, N. C. Wyeth, a well-known illustrator, who taught his son to draw from casts, skeletons, still life and the life model. Andrew did not develop his own inimitable style until after his father’s death in a level crossing accident. The emotional impact of this personal tragedy precipitated the change in his work. He had always been especially drawn to landscape, particularly the Brandywine Valley around his home, but his range broadened to include the study of people and their emotions. His work has a compelling, highly-detailed realism, which can be traced back to Winslow Homer and Thomas Eakins, but conveys a distinct sense of lugubrious wistfulness. In Up in the Studio, a dry brush watercolor, Wyeth uses the frame of his panel as a compositional device. The cropping of the lower edge, combined with the lines of the floor and window, draw the viewer into this private, isolated space. The subdued colors are characteristic of Wyeth’s work and were achieved by grinding his own pigments from a range of earth and mineral colors. He paints in one of two media – dry brush or tempera – both methods being painstaking and slow.
Andrew Wyeth Dry Brush and Pencil Drawings
Andrew Wyeth Dry Brush and Pencil Drawings
Andrew Wyeth Dry Brush and Pencil Drawings
His art focused on his love for the people and the land surrounding him, mostly based in his hometown, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania as well as Cushing, Maine. He spent 50 years of prefessional career producing realistic paintings as well as loosely done pencil drawings and watercolors. He often did the pencil and watercolor sketches as preliminay studies for his large finished paintings.
His works created some controversy as he was pursuing representational works in an era dominated by abstract visual arts. One critique has described Wyeth works as being formulated and superficial, but the admirers of Wyeth argued that the works contain underlying abstraction while being realistic, and possess strong symbolic and emotional currents.
Strength of the hills-Shade Trees
Weather side, 1965
Sea Boots, 1976
Watercolor remained a medium favored by Wyeth, although he had begun working in tempera paint by the early 1940s. Wyeth’s paintings emphasize details of light and texture and are most often executed in warm, soft shades of brown and gray. He achieves great precision in his drawing, but it is always an expression of mood that he seeks rather than an exact reproduction of nature. His art has a deep melancholy strain.
Wyeth was among the most popular painters of the mid-20th century. He received the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963, and in 1970 he became the first living artist to be accorded an exhibition in the White House. In 1986 his reputation was enhanced by the disclosure of some 240 previously unknown paintings and drawings, all of the same woman, which the artist had kept hidden while he created them over a period of 15 years. The works, including nudes, were of Helga Testorf, Wyeth’s longtime neighbor in Chadds Ford. Wyeth added another painting, Gone, to the Helga series in 2002.
Graphite pencil on paper
Gift of Warren Adelson and Frank Fowler
Copyright Pacific Sun Trading Co.
From The Morgan Library & Museum at themorgan.org)
Two superbly rendered drawings by celebrated American artist Andrew Wyeth (1917–2009) are currently on view on the second floor of the Morgan's Annex building. The works, Asleep, 1979, and Watch Cap Study, 1974, depict two of Wyeth's favorite subjects, Helga Testorf and Walt Anderson.
Andrew Wyeth remains one of America's most popular and most controversial artists. The meticulously detailed realism of his largely rural people and scenes—sometimes criticized in relation to the modernist trend towards abstraction and urban subject matter—exists in an American sphere that includes the work of illustrators such as his father, N.C. Wyeth, and Norman Rockwell, as well as great landscape artists such as Winslow Homer.
Wyeth's exacting style relied heavily on drawings made from observation. Between 1971 and 1985, Wyeth created over two hundred works inspired by his neighbor Helga Testorf. The so-called Helga pictures emerged as an important career landmark. Asleep is a beautiful example of Wyeth's manner—the intimate portrait of Helga emphasizes the details of her face, while the surrounding elements are merely indicated with a few cursory lines.
Watch Cap Study, a preparatory drawing for the watercolor, Watch Cap, of the same year, shows subject Walt Anderson turned away from the viewer and staring toward a vast expanse of water—in a pose reminiscent of nineteenth-century Romanticism. The detailed rendering of the hair and weathered wool cap are typical of Wyeth's realism, marked by a masterful attention to telling detail.
(The Morgan Library & Museum at themorgan.org)
Helga Testorf, a middle-aged woman in pigtails who was Mr. Wyeth's neighbor in rural Pennsylvania, has the curious distinction of being the last person to be made famous by a painting. In this she joins that very select pantheon that includes Raphael's Fornarina, John Singer Sargent's Madame X, and the costive couple in Grant Wood's "American Gothic." Yes, John Currin's ethereally lovely wife might elicit an informed double-take along Tenth Avenue, but she is small beer compared with Helga, whose severe, Teutonic features have adorned books and postcards throughout the world.
(A Villain in Pigtails by James Gardner, NEW YORK THE SUN at nysun.com)
Andrew and Betsy Wyeth, October 15, 2008
Wyeth, who focused on the people and landscapes of Pennsylvania's Brandywine Valley and coastal Maine in works such as "Christina's World," died in his sleep at his Philadelphia-area home early Friday, January 16,2009. He was 91.
The death of Wyeth _ the most famous member of the three-generation family art dynasty _ will likely rekindle the debate over his contribution to American art.
"The squabbling is kind of art-world politics over who owns modernism," said curator Kathleen Foster of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, who helped assemble the last major retrospective of his work at the museum in 2006.
Wyeth's pictures express for many the alienation of 20th century life and art, she said. Yet critics in the 1950s assailed him as a provincial reactionary next to New York abstract painters Jackson Pollock and William de Kooning.
"As we get farther from his work, we're going to recognize that he's just a different voice of modernism," Foster said. "This kind of quarreling over his status is going to fade, and he will be recognized as a great, great American artist."
Wyeth died at his home in suburban Chadds Ford, Pa., after a brief illness, according to Jim Duff, director of the Brandywine River Museum.
(Andrew Wyeth, "Christina's World" Artist, Dies At 91 by MARYCLAIRE DALE, January 16, 2009 THE HUFFINGTON POST at huffingtonpost.com)