Saturday, January 17, 2009

RIP Andrew Wyeth



14 comments:

pamokc said...

Very nice tribute. I've always been mildly obsessed with that whole story about the Helga paintings!

Boxer said...

Peace Out, Sir.

Aunty Belle said...

What more tribute than a long productive life?

moi said...

He took a lot of crap from F-artists in the 1950s who were all drooling themselves senseless over Abstract Expressionism. But I think his work was hauntingly lovely.

czar said...

I have read obits that referred to "Christina's World" as a painting of a disturbed girl, a crippled girl, a (insert your adjective here) girl in a field. How is any of that evident in the painting itself? There's no doubt that something moving is going on in that painting, but it's seems to me more like something Rorschach-blot-like is going on in the obits. Even if Wyeth made some statement at some time about the impetus behind the painting (seems unlikely, but what do I know?), if it ain't in the painting, it ain't there. Then again, this kind of logic routinely got me bad grades on poetry analyses in English class.

moi said...

Czar: I actually think quite a lot is evident in the painting, just perhaps not the kinds of specifics some viewers demand.

What interests me most about this work is the choices that Wyeth made – the girl's posture, the amount of distance between her body and the house, the juxtaposition of the pink of her dress and the rest of the painting's somber tones – and how they all come together to tell a story.

Clues to this story are also evident in the title. Christina's World, when Wyeth could just have easily called it Christina's Home or Down on the Farm, or Coming Storm or something else. But the title isn't just place-specific, it's emotional-specific as well. It indicates a psychology rather than a place.

Your use of the word Rorschach is actually a great way of explaining what happens when we want to make sense of a painting like this. Art-making is a symbolic act, those symbols a shorthand for relaying the artist's ideas about his/her own condition or his/her interpretation of the universal, human condition. Even if we don't understand this explicitly as viewers, our natural impulse is to interpret those symbols ("Rorschach" them), and make a whole story of their parts.

To me, Christina's World isn't a cliche, it's actually quite brilliant in that, look, we've spent over fifty years fascinated by it's meaning. That's what great art makes us do.

Doris Rose said...

I appreciate your acknowledgment and comments, I am a big fan of the Wyeth's-especially Grandson Peter de La Fuente.

chickory said...

my favorite andrew wyeth painting is "soaring" . it is a painting of turkey vultures with a point of view above them. (i actually ripped that off in a painting i made called red tailed hawk over georgia)

there is much to admire about wyeth - for one thing in a period of history when his contemporaries were off to paris for the stamp of approval from art critics, wyeth remain distinctively american and local. he proves that a fertile mind cannot in a lifetime exhaust the artistic possibilities of a relatively small area.

he was dismissed as an "illustrator". which really means that he could actually draw and paint. his ability to capture the essence of a personality is a testament to his humanity. every portrait is infused with quiet dignity and executed with a great command of light and with a limited palette of colors.

the wyeths are an american dynasty. NCWyeth was really the father of the frank frazetta style art -the kind you see on metal band album covers - and jaime his son emerged as an accomplished artist as well - his animal portraits are my favorites.

i wont miss him because his gift of art remains forever untouched by time - immortal is the word that applies.

czar said...

If my comment was construed as any criticism of the painting, it wasn't intended that way at all. I am absolutely no art critic and don't know enough about technique to make any judgments whatsoever. What drew my attention more were the comments of the obit writers. And for places like AP, that obit was written years ago by someone who knew what they were doing, and just updated as time went on. Or that's the way it used to be anyway.

moi said...

K9: I have always been puzzled as to why someone's technical skill automatically dismisses them as a serious artist.

Czar: No, actually, I was criticizing the way most critics have dismissed him – and also that many "modern" critics in fact dismiss the important of interpretation in any work of art.

fishy said...

Moi,
What a nice thing to do! I really admire Wyeth on so many fronts although I've never been too fond of his most well known pieces. My favorite Wyeth is "Day Dream" because his ability to contrast textures and light are amazing. He did a series of images from inside a house looking out at those fields...in that series he showed awesome mastery of painting sheer figurative fabrics but avoided letting them dominate the eye. Wonder why he always favored a strong foreground?

czar said...

Is Pollack abstract expressionism? Boy, if there was ever a movie where I was ready for someone to die at the end of it, that would have been it. I guess it's a tribute to Ed Harris.

Anyway, as I say, I know nothing about art and offhandedly dismissed the splatter-and-drip approach. Then I read about a study where a professor took some of Pollack's works and showed them to a class of undergraduates, asking them to associate each splattered canvas with an adjective/emotion (angry, happy, depressed, etc.). There was about 80 percent agreement among the students about what each painting made them think of emotionally. And I thought, "Hmmmm."

Not that I like his stuff any more or less because of this study, but it gave me a different outlook.

moi said...

Pollack was an abstract expressionist, yes. He was also an ass and a charlatan and I hate his work– and everything it stands for – with a white hot passion. Emperor's. New. Clothing.

czar said...

Moi said it. I believe it. That settles it.