Sunday, December 29, 2013

Andrew Wyeth / A Work to Admire

Andrew Wyeth
Trodden Weed, 1951
Tempera on Panel

Andrew Wyeth
Boots (Study for Trodden Weed), 1951

Christophe Thornock
A Work to Admire

I have a great affinity for the work of the late Andrew Wyeth. Finding his works when I was about 13 or so, really cemented a desire to look further into what it meant to be an artist. I had found books of reproductions at the local library and was so surprised by the power of the simplicity in the paintings. These works have always felt honest. This painting is one of my favorites. According to his autobiography, it is a self portrait. He is wearing a pair of French cavalier boots, once owned by Howard Pyle (the great American illustrator and teacher). After a surgery, Wyeth would wander the hills around Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, in order to regain his strength.
In Wyeth's own words, "As I walked, I had to watch my feet because I was so unsteady. And I suddenly got the idea that we all stupidly crush things underfoot and ruin them-without thinking. Like the weed here getting crushed. That black line is not merely a compositional device-it's the presence of death. Before my operation I had been looking at Albrecht Durer's works. During the operation they say my heart stopped once. At that moment I could see Durer standing there in black, and he started coming at me across the tile floor. When my heart started, he, Durer-death-receded. So this painting is highly emotional-dangerous and looming. I like it."

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