July 14, 2017


Why Andrew Wyeth's Art - Once Derided - Has Outlived His Critics (Nic Rowan, 7/13/17, Acculturated)

When the Museum of Modern Art purchased Andrew Wyeth's painting, "Christina's World" in 1948, art critics were furious. The painting--which features a woman crippled by polio crawling up a hill toward an old farmhouse--was a crowd pleaser, hyper-realistic, and contrary to the current abstract trends. Wyeth quickly became (and has remained) one of the most popular and divisive American artists: beloved by hoi polloi but loathed by cognoscenti.

Yesterday would have been Wyeth's 100th birthday, and the critics are finally starting to appreciate his genius. This summer, the Brandywine River Museum of Art near Wyeth's home in Chadd's Ford, Pennsylvania, is celebrating the artist with a comprehensive retrospective show. In addition, Yale University Press has released Andrew Wyeth, in Retrospect a book of critical essays commemorating his career. This is the second major Wyeth show since the Smithsonian National Gallery of Art organized a 2014 exhibit focusing solely on his fascination with windows.

It's a touch ironic that Wyeth should be receiving all this attention while his contemporaries--Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, Elaine de Kooning--over whom the art world once swooned, have been sequestered to quiet showrooms in urban haute bourgeois galleries. But it makes sense. Unlike the abstract expressionists, Wyeth's work endures because he portrayed his subjects naturally, interlocked in a dance between chaos and order, always on the brink of both, in an upward struggle toward clarity.

Beauty is objective.

Posted by at July 14, 2017 7:38 AM