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Andrew Wyeth has died
January 16, 2009 6:52 AM   Subscribe

Painter Andrew Wyeth has died at the age of 91. The son of beloved illustrator N.C. Wyeth, Andrew enjoyed mass popularity for paintings such as Christina's World and his Helga paintings.

Andrew was the father of artist Jamie Wyeth, also brother to artist Carolyn Wyeth. More on the artistic Wyeth family here.
posted by marxchivist (53 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I've ridden my bike all over the Brandywine Valley, but never been to the Wyeth Museum. It's on the list, though.
posted by fixedgear at 6:58 AM on January 16, 2009


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posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 7:04 AM on January 16, 2009


Wyeth spent all of his life living in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania and his summer home in Cushing, Maine.

His brother Nathaniel invented the plastic soft drink bottle. Nathaniel's son, Howie Wyeth, played drums for Link Wray and was the drummer on Dylan's "Rolling Thunder" tour.

Quite a family. Andrew Wyeth is often dismissed by critics and serious art scholars because his work is so accessible, but if you read and listen to interviews with him, he was a serious artist and there is a hell of a lot more going on in his paintings than just a nice picture of a house in a windswept pasture.
posted by marxchivist at 7:04 AM on January 16, 2009


Gazing longingly at the farmhouse in the distance...

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posted by jonp72 at 7:07 AM on January 16, 2009


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posted by DaddyNewt at 7:07 AM on January 16, 2009


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posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:09 AM on January 16, 2009


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posted by John of Michigan at 7:12 AM on January 16, 2009


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Tremendously talented family. N.C. fired my imaginination as a child when I came across his gorgeous illustrations, and a few years later I fell in love with Andrew's stark, hard-edged tempera paintings. I have been to the Brandywine Museum several times and will be happy to go back again soon (fortunately I live only an hour or so away). If I could paint half as well as Andrew Wyeth I'd be quite pleased with myself. I always felt he was a serious artist; I cannot understand criticism of him as an "illustrator." It simply is not so.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 7:15 AM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Christina's World was the wallpaper on my laptop for about three months (finally replaced about a week ago), so I'm taking this absurdly personally. You have my dot, sir.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:17 AM on January 16, 2009


I've always been fascinated by the placement of Christina's World in the Museum of Modern Art. In the old building, it used to be isolated behind a wall, at the end of short hallway - as if it were under quarantine. In the redesigned MoMA, it is still stuck off in a separate room, but at least has some company... more like after school detention than quarantine. Since it has never fit MoMA's narrative, I find it more interesting as a historical problem than as a painting.
posted by R. Mutt at 7:20 AM on January 16, 2009


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Geez, I thought Wyeth had dies years ago. What? He was 91.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:21 AM on January 16, 2009


A.W. has always been one of my very favorite artists. His compositions and muted palettes speak to a very comfortable place for me for a reason I've never quite been able to put my finger on. N.C, Andrew and Jamie are all world-class, although I don't think they've ever gotten their due because "illustrators" tend to be short-changed.

R.I.P. Thanks for the effort.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:21 AM on January 16, 2009


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posted by Spatch at 7:22 AM on January 16, 2009


Back for another . because, dammit, this makes me very very sad. I'm about ready to cry.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 7:23 AM on January 16, 2009


sot
posted by medium format at 7:27 AM on January 16, 2009


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posted by mygothlaundry at 7:29 AM on January 16, 2009


Christina's World was hanging in my family's living room my whole childhood. At one point I asked what the girl was doing, and my Mom said she was paralyzed and couldn't get up to go home, and nobody was around to help her.

I never thought to question this until I was literally in my thirties. That painting puts off a whole different vibe for me, to this day.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:33 AM on January 16, 2009


HOLEY MOLEY IT'S TRUE

I'm an idiot. Thanks wikipedia.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:34 AM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


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I first saw Christina's World when I was 10, in a Reader's Digest. I stared and stared at it, and thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I still think it is.
posted by Xere at 7:49 AM on January 16, 2009


Trivia: former Pepsi and Apple executive John Sculley owned the Olson House (depicted in Christina's World) and donated it to the Wyeth Center at the Farnsworth in 1991.
posted by ericb at 7:51 AM on January 16, 2009


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posted by ericb at 7:52 AM on January 16, 2009


His son Jamie does some terrific paintings as well, such as this awesome one of Arnold Schwartzeneggar.

RIP.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:56 AM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Interesting story you linked to Astro Zombie. I thought the author did a nice job of summing up N.C.'s, Andrew's, and Jamie's abilities: Jamie Wyeth, son of Andrew Wyeth and grandson of N.C. Wyeth. Wyeth the younger had inherited his family's ability to capture the soul of a person, animal or farmhouse on canvas.
posted by marxchivist at 7:59 AM on January 16, 2009


I loved his work...

RIP
posted by kdern at 8:00 AM on January 16, 2009


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posted by Ber at 8:00 AM on January 16, 2009


HOLEY MOLEY IT'S TRUE

I always liked Christina's World, and when I used to sell prints of it at a gallery, this confusion came up every now and again.

I actually appreciate it even more for the dissonance it causes in some people.

Also, it's pretty.

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posted by quin at 8:08 AM on January 16, 2009


It doesn't matter that Christina was paralyzed or that Andrew's wife Betsy was the model he used in the painting, not Christina. I was shocked to learn these things as you were but after thinking about it for a while, I decided to put all that out of my mind and to remember that it's still a painting of a beautiful lady posing in a beautiful field below a beautiful house.
posted by notmtwain at 8:10 AM on January 16, 2009


I love Wyeth, the Brandywine River Museum, and Chester County. I go trail walking out there all the time, it's like my favorite place on earth.
posted by The Straightener at 8:33 AM on January 16, 2009


Wyeth was no mere sentimentalist--one of the greats for me. His work will be persistent.
posted by washburn at 8:38 AM on January 16, 2009


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posted by ardgedee at 8:39 AM on January 16, 2009


My art professor often sat us down in a circle around him while he paged slowly through Wyeth at Kuerners. I remember thinking it was amazing that a group of 22 college freshmen could be rendered silent, still and dumbstruck by an old book full of farm paintings.

Upon hearing the news this morning, I finally bought myself a copy of the book. Wyeth was an inspiration.
posted by bristolcat at 8:43 AM on January 16, 2009


This image allowed me to identify my dog's behavior as "wyething".

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posted by Joe Beese at 8:48 AM on January 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


In the redesigned MoMA, it is still stuck off in a separate room, but at least has some company... more like after school detention than quarantine.

I agree, it's a weird placement. Isn't it in the entry/exit room of the gallery? People just blow by it to get to the door, and you end up standing in their way if you want to actually look at the art.
posted by smackfu at 8:59 AM on January 16, 2009


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posted by scody at 9:01 AM on January 16, 2009


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posted by longdaysjourney at 9:09 AM on January 16, 2009


I remember Christina's World hung on the wall in the hallway of my grammar school (Rockaway Valley School, Boonton Township) in the '70s.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:17 AM on January 16, 2009


I don't know why I make this association, but whenever I hear the Talking Heads' Road to Nowhere, I think of "Christina's World." Brains are odd.

Wyeth paintings/posters/postcards/calendars were all over mid-coast Maine, when I lived there. Whenever I get a little homesick, I troll the web for Maine paintings by a Wyeth.

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posted by rtha at 9:33 AM on January 16, 2009


Andrew Wyeth's "Ground Hog Day" has always struck me as the perfect portrait of the man who wasn't there. It's a sunlit corner of a farmhouse, morning light, and on the corner of a breakfast table, there's a coffee cup in a saucer, a chipped plate and a knife. Outside the window, long-ago felled tree trunks rest in a winter field. To me, it suggests an aging Pennsylvania German farmer at his morning chores, not yet come in for the stark and solitary breakfast he eats day after day after day.

To the man who isn't here anymore...

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posted by MonkeyToes at 9:57 AM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


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Thanks, Wyeth. We hardly knew ya.
posted by humannaire at 10:08 AM on January 16, 2009


The Helga situation.
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 10:16 AM on January 16, 2009


With a nod to Joe Beese, I've had Wyeth's "Master Bedroom" hanging over my bed for about nine years. It's just so peaceful.

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posted by swerve at 10:29 AM on January 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Guess I forgot to out this in a recent 'brush with fame thread' but I spotted Mr. Wyeth several times at Hank's Place where he was a regular.
posted by fixedgear at 10:36 AM on January 16, 2009


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posted by doctor_negative at 11:03 AM on January 16, 2009


I spotted Mr. Wyeth several times at Hank's Place where he was a regular.

I ate at Hank's both times I visited the Brandywine Museum and didn't have a clue that Andrew Wyeth might be there. I later read Wyeth People by Gene Logsdon. When the author went to Hank's Place asking about Andrew Wyeth, the locals responded with "Who's that?" Logsdon explained that Wyeth was a painter who lived in the area and one of the farmers said "Wish I knew a painter around here, I need my barn painted."

They probably went through that routine every time someone came in and asked about Wyeth.
posted by marxchivist at 11:04 AM on January 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


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posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:07 AM on January 16, 2009


The Wyeth's have had a tremendous influence on my growth as a painter. I'm deeply saddened to hear this.

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posted by billypilgrim at 11:33 AM on January 16, 2009


I'm pretty ashamed to say that I first heard about him from the Shawn Colvin album cover A Few Small Repairs. I honestly thought it was original cover art, but, I was like 14. Then I studied him over the next ten years. Good man.
posted by OrangeDrink at 11:49 AM on January 16, 2009


91 is an admirable run, but it sucks that he's gone. Anyone check out the stop light painting on his home page? Dude was still painting.

We should all go in our sleep.

RIP, ANW.
posted by VicNebulous at 12:09 PM on January 16, 2009


Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to recall reading that a favorite technique of his was to use watercolor pigments straight from the tube (ie: no thinning with water, etc.).
posted by RavinDave at 1:30 PM on January 16, 2009


I remember being a young girl and my father took me to the Brandywine River Museum to see his exhibit. I was so fascinated by how he painted the hair in the Helga paintings, with such detail and care; it was like looking at a photograph. He was an amazing talent.

Rest in peace.
posted by NoraCharles at 2:26 PM on January 16, 2009


I'm afraid that a lot of Wyeth's output strikes me as gauzy sentimental rubbish. This includes 'Christina's World'. But Winter 1946, is something more.

For that painting, at least, a dot.

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posted by Slithy_Tove at 6:49 PM on January 16, 2009


I was never aware, having been introduced to the painting as a preteen, that the Christina in question was disabled, but the picture certainly never struck me as sentimental or "happy". More an individual compromising with their landscape, stark and lonely, which strikes me as not incompatible with Modernism. It seemed a comment on the disappearance of rural life.

I came to the painting with a fairly rich interpretive toolbox for art, so maybe that's part of my reaction. I find artists like Rockwell or for that matter Carl Larsson work within a certain range of expression that isn't considered as intellectual, but this baffles me somewhat even though I understand what it really means. Especially in an era when we now celebrate the artistry of popular culture more than ever before.
posted by dhartung at 11:34 PM on January 16, 2009


My feelings are congruent with Billypilgrim's. Anyone who has ever picked up a brush and spent years pushing paint around knows that Andrew Wyeth's skills were incredible. Even though 91 is indeed, an excellent run, I was incredibly sad when I heard this news.
posted by Hickeystudio at 5:27 AM on January 17, 2009


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