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American Painter Andrew Wyeth’s Death Leaves Legacy and Intrigue

Andrew Wyeth the American painter best known for his landscape and figure subjects past away early this year at age 91. Wyeth was best known for his painting “Christina’s World” of a disabled woman dragging herself through a field toward her house in the distance. He also frequently painted Pennsylvania’s Brandywine Valley and Cushing Maine.

Andrew was the youngest painter in the Wyeth family, known for a family of artists. His father was W.C. Wyeth who painted incredible scenes of adventure for books like Treasure Island and The Last of the Mohicans. Andrew chose to explore watercolors and scenic displays, culminating in his first show at the age of 20.

Andrew Wyeth - Master BedroomAndrew Wyeth was widely decorated, receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963. He was featured in exhibitions at the white house through President Nixon and in 2007 President Bush awarded him with the National Medal of Arts for his lifetime achievement. See here for more about Andrew Wyeth’s biography.

Controversy Followed Andrew Wyeth
Andrew Wyeths’s death has brought to mind the controversy surrounding his paintings. He was lambasted by critics for his bland style. Critics said of his work “They are just sort of colored drawings, illustrated dramas that enable people who don’t like art to fantasize about not living in the twentieth century.” Art critic Dave Hickey mentioned that Wyeth’s paintings were colorless “Mud and baby poop.” His paintings did appeal to middle class Americans so people who argue the worthiness of his paintings also include class arguments.

Some of his spicier moments came later in his career. In 1985 a series of over 200 paintings that he had done of Helga Testorf was released. The drama surrounding The Helga Paintings was a low level attempt at soap opera drama. It was said that Andrew did this series of paintings without his wife Betsy knowing about the time he was spending and that there was a romantic connection between the artist and model. Things were put to rest when it was found out the paintings had not been a secret (the pictures had been in circulation and reproduced since 1979), and Betsy said of any accusation of romance “It’s a bunch of crap.”

The New Normal Rockwell
Maybe there was a little bitterness considering the amount of attention he was getting. In 1976 he was the first living American artist who was given a featured retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Because of his popularity he received a lot of attention and press, his importance in the art world could have soared on popularity alone and the going price for his paintings was in the millions.

According to officials at the Brandywine River in Pennsylvania Andrew Wyeth passed away in his sleep. More information on Andrew Wyeths’ death can be found at: http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/01/16/andrew.wyeth.obit/index.html

 

Written by Dan Woods
Dan Woods is a modern artist and is the owner of the website Andrew Wyeth Prints.

 

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