Andrew Wyeth died this morning

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Andrew Wyeth died this morning

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jan 16, 2009, 6:48 pm

I don't recall a day when I have been more profoundly saddened by the passing of a great artist. In 1969, my high school art teacher laid his brand new copy of Andrew Wyeth, published by Houghton Mifflin, in my lap. What a revelation awaited me as I opened to those huge color plates and looked upon his dry brush. I still remember how thrilled I was in 1999, when I bought a copy of this book from Larry McMurtry in his Archer City bookstore. I have feasted on the art of Wyeth for forty years now, and have worked incessantly at my own watercolors to develop his remarkable drybrush technique. And now, he is gone. His body of work comes to an end. I cannot express the sense of loss I feel over this. How fortunate for all artists and art lovers that he lived to be 91 and remained fertile till the end. Rest in peace, Andrew Wyeth.

jan 21, 2009, 2:00 am

I bought my book of his work in 1978 or 79. At the time I was taking art classes and I was told by my art teachers that he was an illustrator, like Norman Rockwell, not a "real" artist. Although it was fashionable to ignore him, I continued to love and value his contributions to art. So sorry he is gone.

feb 4, 2009, 12:28 am

Good point. Wyeth and Edward Hopper both were plagued by that tag "illustrator." Of course, I am too. I don't pretend to have a definitive answer to this, or defense of them. I just know that something in their work draws me in, and I've always puzzled over what it takes to create "mood" in a painting. Anyone can be a technician, and Wyeth was certainly a technician, but he was so much more. I think what I have always liked best about his drybrush watercolors is all that empty white space he left around the perimeters, and pushing up into the actual composition. He would choose just one thing on which to focus, and then leave the rest of it alone. He once said that it wasn't what you put into a composition that made it "work," but what you left out. Less is more.

Thanks for your comment, Theresa.

feb 4, 2009, 2:24 am

I really wish there was more openness and less smugness when it comes to art. In the article I read and posted to Facebook, it said that Wyeth's work is in MOMA, but kind of hidden away, almost as though the modern art did not want to acknowledge him or claim him. I have a hard time understanding this. I agree that Wyeth's work went well beyond technical proficiency. I feel the soul of the artist (same with Hopper). And, yes, less is more, for sure. Unless, I suppose, you are thinking about someone like Ramirez who generally filled every space on the paper.

feb 5, 2009, 12:18 am

Yes, I've been to MOMA three times, and "Christina's World" was never on display. I couldn't understand that. And here, at the Dallas Museum of Art, is one of my favorite Wyeth temperas of all time ("That Gentleman"). I have lived here since 1977, and they did not bring out that painting to hang until about two years ago. Almost thirty years, and the painting was in the vault! Can you believe that?

I'm embarrassed that I never saw your Facebook posting of the Wyeth article. I'll go back and look for it.

I just ordered the book with your short story that comes out this month. I can't wait to read it! I posted something to you about that in Facebook.

Redigeret: feb 5, 2009, 1:56 am

David, I messaged you at FB with the article. Anyone else interested?,8599,1872404,00.html?xid=rss-topstories

Oh, I'm so excited that you ordered a copy of the anthology! You WILL let me know what you think, I hope! Thanks so much!

Unbelievable that the painting was in the vault all the time. *sigh*

"Even when Wyeth is admitted into the canon, he's held a bit at arm's length. The Museum of Modern Art in New York City owns his most famous canvas, Christina's World, which it acquired in 1948, soon after it was painted, for just $1,800. But while the picture is always on display at MoMA, it's consigned to what you might call an anteroom on the margins of the more respectably modern galleries, a salon des refuses that it shares with Edward Hopper's House by the Railroad. Seeing Christina splayed across her field of grass, gazing toward that house on the horizon, it's easy to imagine that it's the citadel of MoMA she's looking at so poignantly, the place she still has not entirely entered, even if she is inside."

feb 6, 2009, 7:28 am

Of course, I'll have to respond to the anthology. I wish I had it already. As I noted on Facebook, Tess Gallagher was brought to my attention during that splendid summer at Oregon State, and the experience posted on my "25" was intimately connected to things she shared.

Yes, the vault. Dallas Museum of Art finally brought it out, and now that Wyeth has passed, I highly doubt that the painting will go away anytime soon. I'm deeply satisfied with those times when I can linger in front of it--such an amazing piece.

What an incredible quote--"the citadel of MoMA she's looking at so poignantly, the place she still has not entirely entered, even if she is inside." I'm glad to know that Andrew was his own man, and didn't obsess about what the art world thought of his work. He even seemed O.K. with the general population liking it, even if they didn't share his sentiments about his subjects. He made a comment that many of his admirers enter his work "through the back door," and that's O.K. too. I like that.

feb 6, 2009, 12:12 pm

I have a funny story, at least I think it's funny, about the Dallas Museum of Art.

I worked for a while at a comfortable walking distance from the museum and used to walk down there for lunch. One of the free galleries had a display of about thirty or so smallish paintings by an Hispanic artist that were all garish, primary colors with mostly black backgrounds and were reminiscent of nighttime landscapes. They all looked like they would be truly psychedelic under black light. I have no idea who the artist was. While I was admiring the art a docent followed by a gaggle of school girls came into the room and the docent began to explain the art to these girls in terms they could understand, she talked about composition, use of color, the southwestern themes and the modern aspects of the art. Mind you, these works all looked like sketches for the cover of the Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge She talked about everything except the consistent subject. Every picture was filled with peyote buttons growing on every surface available. There was a lot of irony, there. I wonder yet if anyone recognizes what was going on in that art. I'm sure they must.

feb 7, 2009, 2:50 am

That is a funny story. It reminds me of high school teachers who teach Walt Whitman and fail to discuss all the erotic passages!

feb 7, 2009, 9:10 am

Sort of like Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.