/***********************************************/ /* HEADER */

It's a fine line between living for the moment and being a sociopath.

Patricia B McConnell: For The Love Of A Dog.

Pema Chodron: The Places That Scare You

Daniel Wallace: Mr Sebastian & the Negro Magician

All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are. --Pablo Neruda

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Andrew Wyeth and memory

I spent part of growing up a few miles down the road from Andrew Wyeth’s farm. Between my house and his, there was a converted mill on the banks of the Brandywine river. It housed the world’s largest collection of the remarkable crop that flowed downstream from that farm: the output of the first family of American painting: Andrew Wyeth, his father NC, his son Jamie, and others.

In that museum were paintings I would go back to again and again over the dozens of visits my family made in the years we lived there. We would walk through the museum, escorting some visiting friend, and I would dawdle impatiently waiting for the good paintings. The ones that had become mine, somehow: pictures that pressed deep, vivid memories into me that stayed for years after, and that are with me still.

Could early exposure to art be any better? The museum was simple and rustic, not some lofty, far-away temple. The art was intimate, figurative, and familiar, not historical, abstract or conceptual. It depicted the recognizable, even to a seven year-old: people, places, pigs.

Perhaps second only to the picture books of my childhood, Wyeth’s art in that museum coloured in an early, unconscious aesthetic that would eventually become my view of what art -- and, more particularly, my notion of what good art -- was. And if that view has gained supposed sophistication with years, I don’t think it has drifted far from those early lessons learned down the road from his farm.

Years later, I lived nearby, again. Completing my senior year of high school in Delaware, I lived across the border in Pennsylvania. Our daily commute took me and my dad right past the driveway of the Wyeth farmhouse, smoke sneaking out its chimney on frost-laden mornings. That, too, was familiar. The palette of his paintings had always been the palette of that farm in winter: muted, but still crisp, somehow.

It’s a palette that has gone in and out of fashion more than once during my lifetime, but he’s rarely strayed from it, even in his nudes. He paints, still, in his eighties and, although he’s that rare beast –- almost oxymoronic -– the multi-millionaire painter, his works selling for more than those of any other living American artist, he still lives on that farm.

This is a lovely piece on Andrew Wyeth from the June Smithsonian Magazine.

Click on any of the images to see a larger version.

Comments on "Andrew Wyeth and memory"


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (5:27 AM) : 

And you at five years of age dear blogger, were given a first prize by Jammie Wyett for your rendition of the George Washington Bridge. hm


post a comment