Friday, December 28, 2012

Andrew Wyeth: The Observer's Eye

The works are stark, real and beautiful. They exist in something of an eternal state of winter and barrenness. The chill of the air, the sound of a slight wind blows through the leafless trees and the unfiltered light of the almost warmth less but sustaining sun reveals all. This land is drawn to the bare essentials and survival. The faces and character of the inhabitants reveal the austerity of this monochromatic place that must be worked; by all the inhabitants including the artist. There is nothing of adornment, nothing of the baroque in these works. The artist’s power of observation is great, his attention to detail immense and he is without rival. He; Andrew Wyeth is an artist for the ages. His works tell a tale of dedication and love of craft, of art and life.

In addition to landscape and still life, portraiture was among Wyeth’s favorite forms. He painted his neighbors religiously in the spirit of the “American Scene” artists. His love of sight and seeing was formidable and women were among his favorite subjects. Three of note were Christina Olsen, Siri Erickson and Helga Testorf. “Christina’s World” is in many ways his seminal work. It is included in the MoMA collection in New York and reproduced in countless books, magazines and was my introduction piece to Mr. Wyeth. It is magnificent! The young Christina is placed alone in the distance from her home in an expansive field. She is seemingly unable to walk in what appears to be a noon that could rapidly become twilight and night. Wyeth has masterfully painted the complexity of the foreground grasses and the distant buildings in equal manner without losing a feeling of depth. This is a great feat of painterly skill and invention.

The Helga series consists of 45 paintings and 200 drawings. The works were done in secret and it is safe to say Helga was his favorite single subject and devotion. Wyeth painted Helga from many angles and points of view, many are nudes. The Helga series was scandalous, entertaining and richly vibrant. Wyeth was thrust into the limelight of the mass media and for a time the world’s most talked about artist.

The Siri paintings are probably the least publicized but none the less beautiful and intriguing. They are much fewer in number than the Helga works. They are equal to the “Helgas” in technique and are visionary pieces.    

Wyeth has not been universally loved and appreciated. It is the curse of popularity to be derided by some. He has been accused of being an over glorified illustrator.  His father was the great N.C. Wyeth who essentially home schooled his beloved son “Andy” after recognizing his incredible possibilities as an artist/draftsman. Wyeth was a child prodigy; one that lived up to and surpassed his youthful potential. His works are of the sort that the viewer can become lost in, transported to a place of unequaled skill, achievement and grace. He was and is the Best.

Slected From the Artist's Portfolio

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