Monday, March 4, 2013

Andrew Wythe by Erica Gendell

Andrew Wythe

To give some background information, Andrew Wyeth was born in July of 1917 in Pennsylvania. He died in the same town he was born in January of 2009 at age 91. He was the youngest of five children and his father was a well-known illustrator and artist NC Wythe. He was home tutored and enjoyed the readings of Henry Thoreau and Robert Frost. His attention to nature in his paintings leads me to believe that Thoreau and Frost both inspired him even after childhood. An interesting fact is that he sold his first painting at the age of sixteen for $12,000! He had began painting at Karl, his neighbors farm. Karl asked if he could sell one and did not inform sixteen-year-old Andrew that he had sold it for such a pretty penny.  He also was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor in the United States legislature. 

I chose to further explore Andrew Wythe’s work after coming across one of his paintings as I was flipping through a book simply called “The Art Book.” I saw a painting that I vaguely recognized, but I did not know the artists name or anything about him. I had a strong connection with the painting and figured it would be interesting to learn more about an artist I knew nothing about. The painting is called “Christina’s World” and it has a great use of perspective with Christina being in the foreground and farmhouses off in the distance. There is a large, vast, melancholy distance between the girl and the houses. This painting evokes a feeling of despair and hopelessness.

Christina's World, Anderw Wythe 1948
Here are some sketches of Andrew Wythe's that led up to him creating "Christina's World." There is a loose thumbnail sketch of the entire painting and then a study drawing of Christina's hand. 

The farm in the back of the painting is called the "Olsen House" and over the years Wythe painting many aspects of the farm and the Olsen's who inhabited it. Here is a watercolor of the Olsen House from an interesting perspective:

Andrew Wythe, 1966

Wythe was primarily a realist painter working predominantly in a regionalist style. Regionalists shunned city life and instead preferred subjects in rural areas.  His subjects are often deserted landscapes and scenes conveying the conflicts of solitude. Therefore, to match his subject, his pallet is generally very muted. However, he did have what he considers a “blue sky” period when he used brash deep blue watercolors. Although those paintings are beautiful too, I prefer the melancholy and subdued style of most of Wythe's work. 

“Only a true artistic independent like Andrew Wyeth could have created something of such pure simplicity and maddening complexity, something so obvious yet so satisfyingly clandestine”—Thomas Hoving, Introduction to Andrew Wyeth’s Autobiography


The Art Book, Phaidon Press Limited London. 1994.
Andrew Wythe Autobiography, Andrew Wythe and Hoving Associates. 1995.
Michael Komanecky. Andrew Wythe, Christina's World and the Olson House. Skira Rizzoli, New York

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