Andrew Wyeth is a renowned American artist of the 20th century. Andrew Wyeth’s paintings are considered a prime example of the realistic direction. His work was influenced by the harsh life of the American hinterland, with which the entire biography of the painter is inextricably linked. Andrew Wyeth is considered to be one of the founders of American Regionalism, which emerged in the 1930s. His works are dedicated to the land on which he was born, the people around him, the outskirts of the Pennsylvania town of Chadds Ford and a summer residence on the ocean in Maine. The dreary and austere beauty of these places became famous thanks to the artwork of the talented author.
Biography of Andrew Wyeth
Andrew Wyeth was the fifth child of Newell Convers Wyeth, the famous illustrator for the works of Robert Stevenson and James Fenimore Cooper. The artist was born on a summer day on July 12, 1917.
A sickly weak boy was educated at home. His only teacher was his own father, who protected his son from any worries that could harm his condition. Andrew himself, recalling his childhood, said: “Dad kept me locked up, guarding the peace of my own world, where he would not let anyone in.”
Young Wyeth learned to draw before he read. His father taught him the basics of painting in his own studio, inspiring him to create romantic rural landscapes. The beginning artist studied the history of the development of art independently. He was particularly interested in the American school and admired the style of Winslow Homer (Winslow Homer).
Critics praised Andrew Wyeth’s talent when he turned 20. His first exhibition took place in New York in 1937. The paintings were sold out to one. The audience noted the laconic style of writing, deliberately limited color gamut, emotional saturation. The artist used tempera to create his masterpieces, preferring it to oil paints.
Tragic events in the artist’s life
For health reasons, the painter did not get to the front of World War II. His life was relatively quiet, the most serious events were the move from Pennsylvania to Maine and back. But in 1945, an incident happened that significantly influenced the further work of Andrew Wyeth: his father’s car stalled while crossing the railway track and was crashed by a train.
The death of the most beloved person turned out to be a monstrous tragedy for the artist. The most striking expression of emptiness, emotional shock, is the painting by Andrew Wyeth “Winter”. It depicts an empty, gloomy hill along which a boy in a winter hat and a black jacket walks. The crash site was located behind this hill. The author put into the work the feeling of an irreparable loss he experienced. In 1958, Andrew Wyeth spent the summer on the farm of an acquaintance named Olson in Cushing. A few years before this event, he got married and his wife introduced him to a friend who served as a model for one of the author’s most famous paintings: “Christina’s World”.
Christina Olson suffered from incurable polyneuritis, which resulted in paralysis of her lower body. Unable to walk, the girl was crawling, stubbornly unwilling to give up. The artist took advantage of one of the moments of her difficult travels, creating his famous masterpiece.
1970 to 1985 Andrew Wyeth created more than two hundred works for which the German woman Helga Testorf posed for him. The artist painted in secret from Helga’s husband and his own wife. Most of the works are erotic in nature, sometimes they are classified as nude. One of the first in the series was Indian Summer, written in 1970.
For decades, the artist painted the same models, recognizable landscapes, made many sketches, worked mainly with egg tempera and watercolors using the dry brush technique. He himself did not consider himself a realist, saying that his art gravitates towards abstractionism.
Many of his works, created after the death of his beloved father, are filled with obvious mysticism. Andrew Wyeth lived a long life. In recent months, he was constantly ill, and on the night of January 16, 2009, he fell asleep in his bed and did not wake up. The quiet death of the 91-year-old painter ended his long and fruitful career.
The most famous paintings by Andrew Wyeth
Many works of the American realist seem to be snatched episodes from life, behind which a sequel is hidden. He worked carefully on the composition, trying to convey the emotional mood. The most famous paintings by Andrew Wyeth:
- “Wind from the Sea” (1947) landscape from the window of the Olsons’ house. The artist used the mezzanine as a workshop. One day he saw that a sharp gust of wind ruffled an old curtain. He sketched and waited for the same wind for two months to complete the work.
- Spring (1978) it is believed that the artist’s neighbor, 80-year-old Karl Körner, whom he captured during a serious illness, served as a model.
- “Shelter” (1985) is another portrait of the artist’s mistress Helga. She posed for him while walking in the harsh winter landscape.
- “Marriage” (1993) is an ordinary scene of married life. Such emotional extinction, according to the painter, ends long years of living together.
- “Another World” (2002) one of the last pictures, a scene of a flight between the states. Differs in an unexpected angle and an unusual setting.
Paintings by Andrew Wyeth are still hotly debated. Fans believe that the main thing in them is symbolism, emotional mood. Critics point to a lack of aerial perspective, a flat depiction of landscapes. Negative opinion did not prevent the American artist from the provinces from making a huge fortune. The best of his works adorn private collections and prestigious exhibitions.