Friday, November 6, 2009

Andrew Wyeth

Went to a *great* lecture on Andrew Wyeth last night at Cheekwood as given by his granddaughter Victoria Wyeth. VW appeared at 6 on the button in a black mini dress and teeteringly high heels, behaving in general like a living exclamation point. Continued exclaiming for the entire 90 minute presentation(to be fair, 10 minutes were probably comprised of those low, ironic tones that wind up to an exclamation). Audience delighted. Not a single member under the age of 30... I'd planted myself inadvertantly behind the reserved seats, which were claimed by the slickest of septo-plus-genarians. Wafts of perfume, coiffed talcum white hair, etc, etc. Had planned on taking notes in my comp book, but was afraid I would be mistaken for an undergrad whose attendance was compulsory or somehow rewarded by extra credit. Nix on both.

Usually the term "hyper" as applied to a girl with Jean Seberg hair in my book counts as a negative, but I think she honestly *is* as carbonated in real life as she appeared during the discussion. Crackled like a literal live wire. The only grandchild of a great 20th century painter, her insights into the backstory of the AW paintings done during her lifetime were as upbeat, quirky, and deeply interesting as the family itself seems to be. Reminded me of the "yar"ness of Katharine Hepburn and her family background. Is there just something *to* being born in New England to a gaggle of talented eccentrics? A work-ethic, free-spirit, scrubbed cheek, cold shower, cable knit kind of thing? And if so, let's buy our tickets North sooner rather than later.

"Wind From the Sea" (above) is an example of the meticulous detail AW put into his work...the lace and the grass look touchable. One aspect of his style that I'd never considered was that the white in his paintings reflect negative space-- meaning all the white that you see is the white of the paper, with all the paint applied around it to create a highlighting light. This touch, combined with the egg tempera paint choice, lends to the illusion that the painting is giving off its "own light". "Night Haul" (in which painter and subject were actually arrested for pulling in another fisherman's traps by the moonlight) is a beautiful example.

Definitely much more to investigate on the Wyeths.

LA Times Article about Victoria Wyeth

Museum Syndicate entry on Andrew Wyeth, lots of great scans

"Photographing Andrew Wyeth" from National Geographic

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