Arts in the Environment
 

Exemplary Work - Andrew Wyeth

Michael Schweigart

Andrew Newell Wyeth, son of the internationally renowned painter and illustrator N.C. Wyeth and his wife Carolyn Bockius Wyeth, was born in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, on July 12, 1917. Andrew came from a very creative family and was the youngest of five children. Two of Andrew’s sisters, Henriette Wyeth Hurd and Carolyn Wyeth, were painters, Ann Wyeth McCoy was a composer, and his only brother, Nathaniel was an engineer and inventor with many patents to his credit.

Andrew Wyeth's early watercolor landscapes, much influenced by the work of Winslow Homer, met with enormous critical acclaim at his first one-man show at the William Macbeth Gallery in New York City in 1937. An exceedingly self-critical artist, this immediate success did not reassure him. Feeling that his work was too simplistic, he returned to his father's studio for further concentration on technique. Wyeth soon began working in egg tempera, a renaissance technique introduced to him by his brother-in-law, the painter Peter Hurd. Tempera became his major medium. He said that it forced him to slow down the execution of a painting and enabled him to achieve the superb textural effects that distinguish his work. His other mediums were watercolor and dry brush watercolor.

His work has been exhibited in many major museums including the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia; the Baltimore Museum of Art; the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston; The Art Institute of Chicago; the Museum of Fine Arts in San Francisco; the Museum of Modem Art in New York City; the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, Pa.; the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo; the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg; the Palazzo Reale in Milan; and the Academic des Beaux Arts in Paris, to name a few. He was the first living American artist to have an exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. An exhibition of his work at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2006 drew 177,000 visitors in 15 weeks, the highest-ever attendance at the museum for the work of a living artist.

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