Friday, January 16, 2009

Saying Goodbye to an Awesome Man...

Today the world says goodbye
to a great American Artist...


Andrew Wyeth

1917 ~ 2009

Wyeth died in his sleep at his home in the Philadelphia suburb of Chadds Ford... He was 91 years old. Most of the images in his art are from the area he grew up and lived in, and Maine.

One of his best-known paintings, Christina's World, (above) was inspired while in Maine. It shows a disabled woman gazing up towards her farm house from a grassy field. Wyeth's wife, Betsy, actually posed for this painting, though insprired by the woman he'd met there, Christina.

Andrew Wyeth was a secretive man... spending countless hours alone with his dreams, thoughts, and paintings. "I do an awful lot of thinking and dreaming about things in the past and the future ~ the timelessness of the rocks and the hills ~ all the people who have existed there," he once said. "I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure in the landscape ~ the loneliness of it ~ the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it; the whole story doesn't show.

"I think anything like that ~ which is contemplative, silent, shows a person alone ~ people always feel is sad. Is it because we've lost the art of being alone?"

The painting above, Master Bedroom, is another one of his more popular pieces. The low-key colors of Wyeth's work stem partly from his frequent use of tempera, a technique he began using in 1942. Unlike the oil paint used by most artists today, tempera produces a matte effect.

October 24, 1990, Andrew Wyeth was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. The decoration is awarded to an individual who performs an outstanding deed or act of service to the security, prosperity, and national interest of the United States. It is the highest civilian award in the United States of America.

In his painting, The Swinger - 1969, you can see his technique using watercolor and drybrush. Makes me dream, again, about my desire for a swinging bed... I love the peacefulness of his works.

In 1971, Wyeth began a 14 year long venture in a series of secretive paintings. He'd met a German immigrant who worked for his neighbor, Karl Kuener. "I could not get out of my mind the image of this Prussian face with its broad jaw, wide-set eyes, blond hair," Wyeth said. In 1985 he revealed the full series of 240 images of Helga to his wife... and then to the world. The Helga Pictures, as they'd come to be known as, debuted in 1987 at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. ~ the first time the museum featured a living artist. Wyeth said of his work, "The heart of the Helga series is that I was trying to unlock my emotions in capturing her essence, in getting her humanity down."

I was fortunate enough to be able to go to Washington D.C. to view this amazing debut of Wyeth's work. Helga was depicted in all season's and scenes... My favorite painting is entitled "The Braids" and I purchased a print of it and my Parents framed it for me.

It hangs on the first landing going up our front stairs. I am lucky enough to see this wonderful example of Andrew Wyeth's work each time I go up or down.

My photos do not even come close to doing justice to this piece. Honestly, even the framed print doesn't. It simply took my breath away to stand before the many paintings that Wyeth did. The detail was phenomenal... almost, at times, as if you were viewing a photograph. I simply fell in love with how he'd painted each strand of hair in her braids... even the stray ones...

Should you desire, you can see and learn more by visiting Andrew Wyeth's Helga Pictures: An Intimate Study

I think it only fitting to leave this post with this painting, called Snow Hill. “This is not just a pleasant picture,” said Andrew Wyeth. “It’s a culmination. These are all people I’ve painted in the past”. His models ~ neighbors all ~ dance around a winter maypole in gleeful anticipation of Andrew Wyeth’s death. “When I worked, I raised hell with them mentally and emotionally,” he said. “They wish I were dead, so they wouldn’t have to pose anymore.” The models Karl and Anna Kuerner, Helga Testorf, Bill Loper, Allan Lynch and Adam Johnson are dancing on top of the Kuerners’ hill in view of all the locations where they lived and were painted by Andrew Wyeth.

The empty streamer represents the artist who once said, “I wish I could be invisible when I’m painting.”

My thanks to God for allowing Andrew Wyeth to share his great talents with the world. My thanks to Andrew Wyeth for not remaining secretive and invisible to us.

God bless...

Until another time... Pearl

Please visit here, here and here for credit due for photography and information.

10 comments:

Kathi said...

Pearl, I have enjoyed his paintings too. At first I was afraid to read this post. I thought, Oh my, I hope it is not Pearl's husband. I'm sad that this great artist is gone, but glad your husband is still safe and sound with you. Hugs, Kathi
PS I worked with severe needs children yesterday. It tore at my heart.

Pearl said...

Kathi... Sure didn't intend to startle you, or anyone, with the title... Bless your heart for your sweet concern ~hugs~ ... I can only imagine how your day with the special needs children went; knowing you, your heart did indeed break, but I know those kids came away having been blessed in ways they may never know! You are such an angel and dear friend ♥

Joyce Mineer said...

Pearl,
I always walk away, after your posts, with such a warm feeling in my soul. And it's not uncommon for me to learn a little something from your blogs, either. I cannot recall I stumbled upon your online diary but I'm awfully glad I did. Thank you for regularly making me sigh a very contented sigh...-Joyce

Connie said...

He was a GREAT artist and it's sad to learn of his death, honey. I love his work for its simplicity.
Smooches,
Connie

luvmy4sons said...

Wow! I loved this post. I loved his paintings! Thanks for exposing him to me. I am sorely lack in my knowledge of the arts! We were blessed by God to have this man paint for us! He lived a good long time!

grey like snuffie said...

Hi Pearl, I'm so glad I popped in today. He had an amazing gift. I LOVE the pictures you posted of him. Such an intense gaze. It is wonderful that he was appreciated and noticed for his craft before his death.

Tammy said...

I enjoyed some of his art work not even knowing who he was. I love to look at art but am ignorant to the artists.

Thanks for sharing this!♥

MiMi said...

I had not heard that he had passed away. Master Bedroom has always been one of my favorites and my daughter actually has it in her bedroom. The Helga paintings were awesome. How neat that you got to be there for the debut of one of his paintings.

Thanks for sharing this great post and he will surely be missed!

Amy at Bunny Rose Cottage said...

Aww, poor guy :( I have not heard of him but his artwork is just beautiful! Thank you for this informative post!

Hugs,
Amy

GARAGE SALE GAL said...

Hi Pearl,
I have a print of his...the Master Bedroom one in the guest bedroom.
Hope all is well!!
Is Cocoa Puff being a good girl?!
Warmly,
Deb