Saturday, January 17, 2009

Andrew Wyeth

"I don't really have studios. I wander around—around people's attics, out in fields, in cellars, anyplace I find that invites me." — Andrew Wyeth
Andrew Wyeth was an American painter. He died Friday at his home in Chadds Ford, Pa. He was 91. The New York Time's obituary was quite a shock to me because I assumed he was already dead.

I don't know why I had that misconception. Maybe it was the rural and sentimental subject matter of his paintings. His realistic style seemed out of place in the modern world.

Wyeth's painting titled Christina's World was perhaps his most famous:

It's also one of my favorite works of art. I'm not sure "beautiful" can describe it on a superficial level. But on an another level, it touches my soul. The sense of aloneness is very personal. The woman is in a field. She is skinny and weak and crawling through tawny grass. She wants to get to that house in the distance, where it is probably warm and there are people there, but it's going to be a long struggle. You can't see her face, so I suppose we simply project our own emotion onto her. Sorrow? Fear? Despair? Longing? The house itself seems isolated too. Its dilapidated features recall the great depression and add to the sense of melancholy...

Well, I'll never be a great art critic. My emotional response is ineffable. However, knowing that Christina was real, knowing the story of her life, and knowing why she was crawling through that field helps explain my love for the painting.

Andrew Wyeth died in his sleep. Maybe he's been invited to wander someplace else now.

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