Remembering The Colors Of Andrew Wyeth

Remembering The Colors Of Andrew Wyeth

Andrew Wyeth was a quintessential American artist known for his use of greys and browns in a nearly singular palette found throughout much of his works of watercolor and tempera. In his popularity Wyeth became a stark opposite in modern art being "as rural as Andy Wharhol was urban" and representing middle-class values as much of the rest of modern art was rejecting them. Wyeth, who died on Friday January 16th, 2009 at the age of 91, will be remembered for his realist reflections of rural America and helping to bring the middle-class into a modern art world that was being defined by abstraction.

The Works Of Andrew Wyeth

When this non-traditional self-portrait was done, the artist was recovering from a major surgery to remove a portion of his lung. On his feet are boots once owned by Howard Pyle, founder of the Brandywine school of painting, as well as the teacher of Andrew's father: artist and illustrator N.C. Wyeth. Here, the boots walk over Kuerner's Hill in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania - an area that Andrew Wyeth has walked all his life.

A carry is a shallow place in a river where a boat must be lifted in order to continue travelling - a portage, like this one in Maine.

A marked difference can be seen in the artist's palette in the Maine and Pennsylvania works, just as one can see the weather differ when comparing the summer and winter months. The artist and his family spend the warm months in the midcoast of Maine returning to the artist's birthplace in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania each fall. This scene shows a splash of unexpected color in the chilly, dark days before spring. The painting was inspired by an actual incident when a bright piece of litter, a newspaper advertisement, blew across a snowy hillside.

Wyeth & the Critics

Museum exhibitions of Wyeth's paintings have set attendance records, but many art critics have been critical of his work. Peter Schjeldahl, art critic for The Village Voice, derided his paintings as "Formulaic stuff not very effective even as illustrational 'realism'". Common criticisms are that Wyeth's art verges on illustration, and that his rural subject matter is sentimental.

Admirers of Wyeth's art believe that his paintings, in addition to sometimes displaying overt beauty, contain strong emotional currents, symbolic content, and underlying abstraction. Most observers of Wyeth's art agree that he is skilled at handling the mediums of watercolor and egg tempera (which uses egg yolk as its medium). Wyeth avoided using traditional oil paints. His use of light and shadow let the subjects illuminate the canvas. His paintings and titles suggest sound, as is implied in many paintings including Distant Thunder (1961) and Spring Fed (1967).

Pop Culture References

Wyeth was often referenced by cartoonist Charles M. Schulz (a longtime admirer) in the comic strip Peanuts. In one strip the character Snoopy was presented with a bill for "psychiatric help" 20 cents and states "I refuse to sell my Andrew Wyeth". In another strip, Snoopy's prized Van Gogh painting is burned in a fire, and he replaces it with an Andrew Wyeth. Fred Rogers, from the PBS television series Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, had an Andrew Wyeth painting in the entry way of the studio home, readily seen as he entered and exited.

Tom Duffield, the production designer for the American remake of The Ring (2002), drew inspiration from Wyeth's paintings for the look of the film. M. Night Shyamalan based his movie The Village on paintings by Andrew Wyeth. The Village was filmed in Chadds Ford not far from Wyeth's studio. Director Philip Ridley has stated that his 1990 film The Reflecting Skin is heavily inspired by the paintings of Andrew Wyeth in its visual style.

Sources:, Wikipedia &

Showing 1 - 9 of 9 Comments
the woman in pink - i remember there was controversy to who she was and why she looked like that; critics are so egotistical. this is beautiful. thanks for showing it. i heard about him dying on the radio...but at least he saw the first week or so of 2009, right? ^^
I did a project about Andrew Wyeth last year; I loved his paintings, especially Christina's World. Not very much color, but it's still very realistic and beautiful :D

Rest in peace :(
the painting of the woman in pink is called 'christina's world' and from what i gather is his most famous painting. here is what says about it:

"Christina's World," 1948.

The work became an American icon like Grant Wood’s “American Gothic,” or Emmanuel Leutze’s “Washington Crossing the Delaware.” Mr. 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.
wow...I thought I was the only one (almost) that didn't like the vibes andy Warhol was putting forth. Very. . . stupid, for lack of a better word. Tide boxes. Boxes, a very simple object. That a preschooler can draw just as easily as this highly-revered painter. Basically, I never heard of this Wyeth fellow, and wish I hadn't missed out on his work. Off to go do some research :-)
Great choice for a post.

My mother took me to a Wyeth exhibit when I was about 8 years old while the Helga paintings were touring.

What I remember most was the incredible detail of seemingly incidental things. A strand of hair or a blade of grass had layers of paint and painstaking attention to light and texture. While not exotic or exciting in terms of colour or concept, perhaps, I remember being interested simply in the fact that he seemed to honestly respect his subjects.

He didn't glorify or distort. Wyeth showed beauty in a life that many would overlook. A great American artist that will be missed and hopefully celebrated.
I love the mood in the paintings. They remind me so much of where I grew up and where I visit with my husband every summer. They're like the plains on a rainy day. I love the dog on the bed, that's my favorite of the ones sampled above.
Thanks EVAD for the lovely rememberance of Andrew Wyeth (Jan. 19, 2009) that I just read. I believe that the introduction of Christina's World was as damaging for AW critically as it was instrumental in bringing his amazing work to the public notice. Interesting irony. I am exploring his colors as I write.

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