A significant exhibit opens today. Through October 18th, the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) will display a collection of Andrew Wyeth’s paintings that have never before been viewed by the public. The collection includes Brown Swiss (1957) and Distant Thunder (1961) along with five Helga paintings: Black Velvet (1972), Farm Road (1979), Cape Coat (1982), Overflow (1978) and Braids (1979), below, one of his most beloved paintings.
Significant, because Wyeth passed away this January at the age of 91. This is his first exhibit since his death. SAM’s Ann M. Barwick Curator of American Art, Patricia Junker says, “The people and places that Wyeth brought to life in his paintings are full of deeply personal associations for him. This focused exhibition allows us to mark the late artist’s extraordinary career, to see a concentration of great Wyeth paintings from private collections that are otherwise never on public view, and to gain appreciation for Wyeth’s choice of subjects and his brilliant manner of execution.” Appreciation? Most definitely.
Wyeth was an incredibly talented realist painter. His subjects ranged from people to landscapes to objects, though delicately woven into each of them are the common threads of intimacy, spirituality and emotion. His soft color palette is a distinguishing trait in his work. Starting with studies (pencil scetches or watercolor “drafts”), Wyeth eventually created his paintings using egg tempera, drybrush or watercolor.
In 2007, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts, created by Congress to honor artists and patrons of the arts. It’s a big deal.
One of his most famous paintings is Christina’s World, which is owned by MoMA in NYC. The subject, Christina Olsen, was a neighbor of Wyeth’s in Maine and she was crippled by polio. He said of her, “She was limited physically but by no means spiritually. The challenge to me was to do justice to her extraordinary conquest of a life which most people would consider hopeless.”
He brought us decades worth of extraordinarily beautiful, meaningful work. What a man, what an artist. He’ll be missed.
Exclusive: Andrew Wyeth’s first TV interview
Filed under: Uncategorized on June 25th, 2009