Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect

On Christmas Eve Day, my husband and I went downtown to see this exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum.

Even if you don’t know who Andrew Wyeth is, you probably have seen an image of “Christina’s World,” commonly seen in college dorm rooms, including mine back in 1977.

16.1949

This was not included in the exhibit, except as a small photo on one of the explanatory placards for another painting.

The exhibit did, however, include another iconic painting, “Braids.”

braids_wyeth

Many, if not most, of the pieces in the exhibit were meticulously rendered in egg tempera, and featured muted palettes of earth tones. Even when Wyeth did incorporate some color outside this range, they tended to be pale, as in the pink of Christina’s dress in “Christina’s World.”

Two paintings that employed more vibrant colors were “Snow Hill” and “Garret Room,” with the bright ribbons on the former and the patchwork quilt in the latter.

One aspect of the paintings that is difficult, if not impossible, to capture in a photograph is how Wyeth paints fine details such as grass and hair.

When I peered closely at “Trodden Weed,” the blades of grass are communicated not so much by individual strokes of color, but rather the texture created by the individual hairs in the artist’s brush stroking through the paint on the hardboard panel.

grass

Like I said, hard to capture in a photograph. You really need to be able to get up close and see the small shadows cast by the brushstrokes.

A couple Wyeth’s early watercolors were included, sharply contrasting with the painting style for which he is most well known.

wyeth watercolor

“Coming Storm”

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