Experiencing the Andrew Wyeth in Retrospect exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum is a day well spent, especially on a rainy Seattle Sunday. Room after room filled with amazing art. Damn. I’m in such awe of this artistic talent.
When my antique phone couldn’t download the app for the SAM audio tour, I forked over $4 to rent the old school technology wand to listen to the audio tour. How embarrassing!
Quite the scoundrel, Wyeth painted up until his death at age 91, sneaking away starting at age 53 to secretly paint a neighbor’s caregiver, Helga, in the nude during a 15 year period without telling his wife. Oops. Of course, this was after he had started doing other nudes in a dramatic pivot to erotic art and his wife, Betsy, had told him, “If you do this again, don’t tell me.” So, he didn’t share and painted nude Helga privately while also cranking out landscapes that he DID show his wife. Hmmm….
I appreciate the audio tour interpretation of the paintings because I gaze upon them and think simplistically, “pretty picture” when I should be seeing all kinds of imagery and subtexts telling me about the meaning of life. Nope. Not unless I’m told by the kindly intelligent audio guide do I see the “death as a subtext” message and “sex as a rebirth” theme. I’m an idiot but I do enjoy viewing art as did the huge crowd packing the museum today.
One masterpiece did speak to me, after the audio guide explained that “Snow Hill” was a memorial piece created in 1989 and dedicated to his models, both living and dead, symbolizing renewal and reevaluation of life’s purpose. The models dancing around the May Pole was quite evocative. Well done, Wyeth.
Wyeth painted in tempura and watercolor and pencil sketches. The attention to detail was incredible especially the blades of grass in the landscapes. His dad was a famous illustrator who taught him starting at 15 years old. Wyeth sold out his first NYC show at the ripe old age of 22 and continued to paint until he died in 2018. He is known for his realism.
“I search for the realness, the real feeling of a subject, all the texture around it…I always want to see the third dimension of something…I want to come alive with the object.” -Andrew Wyeth
The exhibit will be at the SAM until January 15, 2018. In addition to the paintings and sketches, the SAM has done a nice job incorporating videos about Wyeth’s life and an interactive area with touch screen devices where you can create your own art. I highly recommend it. Enjoy!