Death of Raw Realism

January 16, 2009

Andrew Wyeth, one of greats in the art world of precise realism, died today at the age of 91.

(Illustration of Wyeth’s ‘Christina’s World‘ found here).

On the artwork above, from the New York Times obit story this morning:

  • One picture encapsulated his fame.
    “Christina’s World” became an American icon like Grant Wood’s “American Gothic,” or Whistler’s portrait of his mother or Emmanuel Leutze’s “Washington Crossing the Delaware.”
    Wyeth said he thought the work was “a complete flat tire” when he originally sent it off to the Macbeth Gallery in Manhattan in 1948.
    The Museum of Modern Art bought it for $1,800.
    Wyeth had seen Christina Olson, crippled from the waist down, dragging herself across a Maine field, “like a crab on a New England shore,” he recalled.
    To him she was a model of dignity who refused to use a wheelchair and preferred to live in squalor rather than be beholden to anyone.
    It was dignity of a particularly dour, hardened, misanthropic sort, to which Wyeth throughout his career seemed to gravitate.
    Olson is shown in the picture from the back. She was 55 at the time. (She died 20 years later, having become a frequent subject in his art; her death made the national news thanks to Wyeth’s popularity.)

Real world views on canvas has lost a voice.

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