at the andrew wyeth exhibit


To judge by the pieces in this exhibit, Wyeth's world was cold, wet, dark, dirty, and trapped in a perpetual early winter. Everything was carved from stone or wood, even the animals. Some of it was breathtaking and empty. I looked at this one (click the image to enlarge it) and I saw a ship with a mast at first, only a moment later recognizing the kitchen and stove.

9 comments:

  1. It reminds me somewhat of my grandmother's kitchen in the early fifties. The stove is unusual: because of the thermometer on the oven door and the metal flue, it appears to be a wood stove, but the dials above indicate electric elements on top... i can't quite read the letters on the front: "Home, something"... and the lady is reminiscent of grandma making one of her apple pies... yum... i can't say i see the ship there, but being that vision is a product of the creative brain, no reason why not... interesting work... tx...

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    1. The flue and the shelf crossing it looked to me like a mast and spar.

      The stove says "Home Comfort". Like this one, maybe.

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    2. Just like that one! amazing find...

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  2. That palette certainly meant that he distinguished himself from his father early on! I looked at Andrew Wyeth often when I took my kids to classes at the Greenville Museum (SC)--they had a surprisingly large collection. And recently the Fenimore Museum had a family show with N. C., Andrew, Henrietta (and husband Peter Hurd), Carolyn, and Jamie. Quite interesting to see.

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    1. I had no idea before last night that Wyeth's father was a painter! There were a couple of Andrew's early paintings, all deep bright colors and wide brush strokes, vibrant and messy, more gesture than detail. Quite different from the bulk of his output.

      I liked most of the really large paintings, and a couple of the pencil drawings and studies were extraordinary. Especially the studies, where you can see how he abandons them as soon as he's solved the technical problem at hand.

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    2. Oh, I can't believe you missed N. C. Wyeth's work as an illustrator of books! Lovely things.

      Yes, he's so much better (and so much more of a Modernist) than people generally think. I'll have to send you something I wrote about him for Phoenicia...

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  3. It's so interesting to me how Wyeth was criticized by the fine-art establishment in the '70s and '80s as middlebrow, old-fashioned, shallow, and conservative. I immersed myself in his work last year and found him challenging, unsentimental, unusually sympathetic to outsiders and oddballs, and deceptively, almost disturbingly difficult.

    Marly makes a great point: Wyeth liked to tell people he was an abstract painter, a claim that earned him only derision until a posthumous 2014 National Gallery of Art exhibition vindicated him by focusing on his use of form. His ambiguous symbolism makes him a kindred spirit, I think, to poets and writers of fiction.

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    1. Wyeth still has a general reputation as being a painter of pretty pictures, no? When the show was first announced, I thought something like, "Oh yeah, Wyeth, he's someone we should know more about, that old Yankee guy," and I had pretty low expectations, more fool me. I was surprised at how expressionist the works were, how strange, dreamlike and abrasive; I was reminded of an exhibit we saw in Vienna a couple of years ago, of large abstract art mostly made of wood and metal and heavily textured fabrics, anti-landscapes and portraits, a lot of rough black paint.

      "ambiguous" yeah, ain't that the truth. There's a lot going on, a lot more than the immediate surface.

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  4. Pretty pictures, yes--which is funny, considering the obvious starkness of so much of his later work!--but as far as the fine-art world is concerned, his reputation is still recovering from the whole "Helga pictures" incident of the '80s, when he unveiled a huge collection of nudes of a young woman he had been painting in secret, unbeknownst even to his wife. He made a lot of money, achieved popular notoriety, and truly enjoyed stoking controversy with the suggestion of scandal. The art world found all of that rather gauche. In retrospect, thankfully, only the art really matters.

    Wyeth's son Jamie inherited his dad's mischievous streak, and it comes out more blatantly in his own art than in his father's. If Andrew had to outdo N.C. by becoming a spectacular fine artist, then Jamie has definitely brought open humor back to the family business.

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