Tuesday, April 1, 2014
If the eyes are the windows of the soul, can the windows of an artist’s studio—the vistas they viewed daily for inspiration—offer a glimpse into their soul? In anticipation of the upcoming exhibition Andrew Wyeth: Looking Out, Looking In, set to open at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, on May 4th, the NGA and the Brandywine Conservancy and Museum of Art teamed up to give the press a crash course on the deceptively realist and deceptively difficult artist Andrew Wyeth. The NGA show hopes to open a new window on the appreciation of Wyeth by focusing on the theme of windows in his work, which they believe will breathe fresh air into studies of an artist whose decades-long reclusiveness before his death in 2009 seems to have shuttered public affection and understanding of the man, his art, and the landscape that shaped both. The specific case of Andy and the Brandywine region outside his window raises a more general question, however, of whether we can understand an artist better not just by looking at their art, but also by seeing what they saw—looking out their window to look into and through their imagination. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Is an Artist’s Studio a Window into Their Soul?"
Thursday, February 6, 2014
Not many art stories make the cover of both TIME and Newsweek in the same week, but the revelation of Andrew Wyeth’s infamous “Helga Paintings” in 1986 caused a news stir that spilled outside the confines of the culture sections. The tale included all the ingredients of a ripping yarn for the masses—deceit, fame, big money, and a pinch of sex to spice things up. The “Helga” of the “Helga Paintings,” Helga Testorf, fled the paparazzi at the time and maintained her silence both about the paintings themselves and the nature of her relationship with Wyeth before, during, and years after their creation. In the BBC Program Michael Palin in Wyeth’s World, former Monty Python member and amateur art historian Michael Palin finally entices Helga from the shadows to speak about the paintings and the painter. What she shares raises new questions about the works as well as what the legacy of Andrew Wyeth should be. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "How Michael Palin Broke the Silence of The Helga Paintings."
Thursday, September 13, 2012
There may be no American artist so linked with specific places and the history of those places as Andrew Wyeth. Wyeth spent his summers in Cushing, Maine, but the other three seasons found him in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. When Andy’s father, the artist N.C. Wyeth, first came to Chadds Ford to study with Howard Pyle, the native New Englander found himself ignorant of the local landscape and history. The man N.C. turned to (and later Andy and Andy’s artist son, Jamie) for that knowledge as well as dear friendship was Christian C. Sanderson, self-appointed local historian of the Brandywine River Valley and hoarder of all things historical. Chris passed away in 1966, but friends took his treasure trove and transformed it into today’s Christian C. Sanderson Museum. In addition to being a repository of some of the oddest and most touching artifacts of American history, the Sanderson Museum might just be the one and only place to see the “real” Wyeths—America’s greatest art dynasty. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Are the “Real” Wyeths Hiding in the SandersonMuseum?"
[Many thanks to the Christian C. Sanderson Museum for providing me with the image above, press materials, and a review copy of The Christian Sanderson Museum—Tom Thompson Remembers by Gene Pisasale.]
[Image: Andrew Wyeth (illustrator) and Christian C. Sanderson (compiler). Map of Historical Chester County (detail), 1937. One of 5,750 printed by Beck Engraving Company, Philadelphia, PA. Original pencil drawing hangs in Christian C. Sanderson Museum. Actual prints from the original 1937 set available for sale from the museum.]
Monday, September 10, 2012
When painter Andrew Wyeth passed away in 2009, the reclusive painter took many of the secrets behind his art to the grave. When I heard that the Brandywine River Museum had opened up The Andrew Wyeth Studio, where both the art and the legends happened, I wondered just how many secrets would be revealed and how many would lurk in the shadows, still hiding somewhere and somehow. Wyeth worked hard for his cherished privacy during his lifetime, so entering his domain even after his death feels like an intrusion. But if an artist’s studio is a window into his soul, then a walk through Andrew Wyeth’s tour is a journey into the darkest and brightest depths of his art.Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "What Secrets Lurk in Andrew Wyeth’s Studio?"
[Image: Table covered with paints and brushes inside The Andrew Wyeth Studio. Photo courtesy of David Livewell. Copyright David Livewell.]
[Many thanks to the Brandywine River Museum for providing me and a colleague with press passes to view The Andrew Wyeth Studio, tours of which are held Tuesday through Sunday through November 18, 2012. The accompanying exhibition A Painter's View: The Andrew Wyeth Studio is on view through October 28, 2012. Many thanks, too, to David Livewell for his photography and invaluable insights on the Wyeths.][Please note that I will be posting on the Christian Sanderson Museum, home to many works by the Wyeths as well as an idiosyncratic, yet unforgettable collection of Americana.]