Exhibition - Andrew Wyeth: Five Decades

Wednesday, Nov 18, 2020 at 10:00am

Forum Gallery
475 Park Avenue at 57th Street
New York, NY 10022

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Forum Gallery, New York, presents an exhibition of works by Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009), who set the standard for American figurative art in the second half of the Twentieth Century.  Working in pencil, watercolor, egg tempera and his much-beloved personal medium of drybrush, Wyeth, throughout his life, was a resolute champion of the universal life force of each person he chose to paint, and of the unique, difficult, ever-changing rural American world in which he chose to live.  His art was controversial as it was popular, and he remains one of very few living artists to be celebrated by important single-person exhibitions at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (1976) and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (1987).  Andrew Wyeth’s 1966-67 exhibition, at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art in Philadelphia, the Art Institute of Chicago and New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, was one of the best-attended museum exhibitions in history.

The young Andrew Wyeth grew up in a prominent artistic family.  His father, Newell Conyers Wyeth, was an important illustrator and realist painter and a strong, early influence on his fifth child, Andrew.  The family lived in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania (population 3600), in Delaware County about 25 miles southwest of Philadelphia and summered in Cushing, Maine in the rural midcoast area.  Andrew, who began by emulating his father, making illustrations, soon eschewed illustration and instead chose the people and familiar landscape of his surroundings as the subjects that would endure throughout his life.

Beginning in about 1940, Andrew Wyeth portrayed his closest neighbors.  His iconic Christina’s World, painted at the Olson farm in Maine, depicts Christina Olson, disabled from the waist down, whom Wyeth had seen dragging herself across a Maine field.  Christina’s World (1948), purchased by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, for $1,800., brought Andrew Wyeth to great prominence which continues to this day.  But perhaps his most characteristic works of this period and through about 1970 are landscapes that imply personal struggle and depict quintessential American beauty. Firewood (Study for Groundhog Day) (1959), Riverboat (1963), and Maine Door (1970), all in the Forum Gallery exhibition, are examples.

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