Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Andrew Wyeth

This week the Pennsylvania artist, Andrew Wyeth died. He was the resident artist/eccentric in northern Delaware where I lived my teens and early adulthood as he lived just across the state line in Pennsylvania. My exposure started when I was about 12 when we moved to Wilmington. My father was an avid reader and the first stop in any town was the public library. At that time the Wilmington Public Library had a wonderful collection of N.C. Wyeth illustrations. They were just hung on the walls with no fanfare or special handling for all of us to see - the colorful stories of Robinson Caruso and Treasure Island. Discovering, admiring and enjoying the prints of N.C. Wyeth, led me to Andrew Wyeth. Although he was reclusive, there were occasional sightings of him in the area. More often we would glimpse his wife, Betsy, or son, Jamie. But the area was full of his works. They were a part of the landscape of my youth, and they captured the wintry yearnings and angst of my adolescence.

To me they far transcend the tag of realism. The mood they evoke is lonely and desolate which is exactly how I view winter in the Northeast. A palette of grays, browns and black broken only by the spare lines and eerie shapes of the branches.This was a world without frills - with a starkness even in the softness of a bed.A world where privacy and solitariness intertwine. His pieces speak to my soul. There has always been a controversy among art critics about how good or bad his work is. I've always felt that his paintings go way beyond the technical detail of photo realism. In fact as seen above they aren't just realistic but wisely edited to tell his story.

Visit the Brandywine River Museum for more about Andrew Wyeth and his work. If you are ever in the Chadds Ford area, stop and see his work in person.

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