Opinions vary on the legacy of the late Andrew Wyeth, the American Realist painter who was born on this day in 1917. He was among the most popular artists of the 20th Century and his painting Christina’s World, which hangs in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, is considered an icon of American Art.
Despite his popularity, the “Art World” isn’t quite as enamored of his work. He hit is creative stride as Abstract Expressionism was becoming the dominant movement in American art and a number of contemporary critics consider his work overly quaint and sentimental. I, for one, am moved by Wyeth’s work; it’s sparseness, it’s economy, the melancholy feeling it invokes. Christina’s World isn’t really one of my favorites. I much prefer the bleak landscapes and undecorated interiors that Wyeth produced throughout his career. His Master Bedroom, which I’ve shared here before, exemplifies this style but is really only the most popular of a number of master works in a similar mood.
We record the world as we see it. Some of us see sunshine and puppies, some see storm clouds on the horizon. Wyeth’s vision was somewhere in the middle. He saw beauty in simplicity and austerity. His work teaches us that often times an artist can reveal more by showing less. It’s a lesson we can all profit from.