RIP, Andrew Wyeth

Andrew Wyeth has died.

One of the great American painters of the 20th century, Wyeth accomplished a unique style that was immediately recognizable, appealing to the untrained eye, and at the same time simple and thoughtful. He once described himself as a just "clever watercolorist". Throughout most of his life, the world of elite art critics wanted to agree.

But with the release of his "Helga" paintings in 1986, the art world got past its pretensions and began to give Wyeth's painting the credit it was due. Despite his popularity with the general public, he came to recognized as one of, if not the, greatest living American painter.

As children we were raised on the art of the Wyeths. Being from an artistic Philadelphia family, yet like the Wyeths transplanted to Maine, we identified closely with them and their art. From Andrew's father, N.C. Wyeth, one of the school of Scribner's illustrators that famously included Howard Pyle and Maxfield Parrish, to Jamie Wyeth, whom my sisters lusted after (and one of whom was his subject), three generations of Wyeth prints hung on our bedroom walls. We were taken to the Farnsworth and Chadds Ford Museums in the summers and spring, and knew all the paintings by heart.

Like the Peales of Philadelphia, artistic talent runs in the blood of the Wyeth family. But there is no doubt that Andrew was the true genius of the family. He used his technical talent to create a style that allowed the most casual observer to recognize its beauty. But more importantly, his work often depicted tensions in love and pain. The famous "Christina's World" is the finest example of Wyeth's impassioned art.

As with the loss of Olin Stephens in September, Wyeth's death seems to make the world of my childhood a greater distance from now than ever. And for that I am particularly sad. But for the rest of the world, the passing of Andrew Wyeth represents the loss of one of America's truly great painters.

Andrew Wyeth, RIP.

3 comments:

JP

11:00 PM

Jake, I remember seeing him with you on that island off Maine (Matinicus?), where we saw him go by in his golf cart, and where the two bull dykes stared you down on the hiking trail and won.

Yarch,

JP

Chris Muir

3:41 PM

Man,I grew up watching 'The Prisoner', a show that made one think...and that great theme music...

Jake

4:57 PM

Chris... glad to see Sam got her total hotness back after the twins. Hardly worse for wear, maybe even better.