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October 12th, 2004
Philadelphia Museum of Art Will Present a Retrospective Devoted to Andrew Wyeth

Philadelphia, PA (October 12, 2004) -- The Philadelphia Museum of Art, in partnership with the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, will present Andrew Wyeth: Memory and Magic , a retrospective that surveys seven decades of the artist’s achievement. The exhibition will be seen in Atlanta (November 2005-January 2006) before coming to Philadelphia, where it will be on view from March until July 2006.

Anne d’Harnoncourt, Director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, said: "Wyeth’s art grew out of his boyhood experiences both in the Brandywine Valley near Philadelphia and on the coast of Maine, and his intensely personal vision has been etched in the American national consciousness for at least half a century. While many of his landscapes and interior views seem familiar to those of us who live in Southeastern Pennsylvania, Wyeth’s work is ultimately elusive and enigmatic in its meaning. We hope this exhibition will provide a deeper understanding of his contribution to American art."

John Wilmerding, the Christopher Binyon Sarofim Professor of American Art at Princeton University and Senior Advisor to the Center for American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, is preparing an introduction to the scholarly volume that accompanies the exhibition. He noted: "As we reexamine the full range of Andrew Wyeth’s art, from landscape to figure subjects, we intend to show the various ways in which his creativity has transformed the ordinary and familiar."

Andrew Wyeth: Memory and Magic will present about 100 tempera paintings, watercolors, and drawings from the 1930s to the present. It will explore in depth Wyeth’s frequently unadorned and often haunting images—ranging from meditative, softly lighted vessels and containers to scenes of stark rooms, windows with curtains lifted in the breeze, barren hills, and people lost in deep introspection.

The exhibition is organized by the High Museum, Atlanta with the collaboration of the Wyeth family and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The curatorial team for Andrew Wyeth: Memory and Magic includes guest curator Ann Knutson for the High Museum of Art, and, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Kathleen L. Foster, the Robert L. McNeil Curator of American Art, and Michael Taylor, the Muriel and Philip Berman Curator of Modern Art.

In the fully illustrated catalogue, published by the High Museum of Art, guest curator Anne Knutson will explore the central role of objects in Wyeth’s art and situate these works in the larger context of American art. Kathleen Foster will discuss the artist’s tempera painting Ground Hog Day (1959) in terms of its meaning and technique and related works in tempera, watercolor, and drawing; and Michael Taylor will write about Wyeth’s relationship to currents in Realism and Surrealism in the 1930s and 1940s. Christopher Crosman, the Director of the Farnsworth Art Museum, will examine the role of Betsy Wyeth in the artist’s life and art.

About Andrew Wyeth
Born in 1917 in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, southwest of Philadelphia, Andrew Wyeth is one of America’s most highly regarded living artists. The youngest of five children, Wyeth received his artistic training from his father—the famed illustrator Newell Convers (N.C.) Wyeth. During annual vacations in Maine, Andrew Wyeth explored watercolor and tempera; both would become signature mediums for his work. Subject matter for Wyeth’s painting and drawing came primarily from his surroundings in Pennsylvania and Maine. In 1939, Wyeth married Betsy James and they had two sons, Nicholas and James (Jamie). Jamie Wyeth, a much-exhibited painter and watercolorist, is the third-generation artist in the family.

In 1936, at the age of 19, Andrew Wyeth held his first solo exhibition, at the Philadelphia Art Alliance. In 1963, President Kennedy awarded Wyeth the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the first visual artist to be honored with the nation's highest civilian award. Opened in 1971, the Brandywine River Museum, in Chadds Ford, Pa., became closely associated with the Wyeth family and is among the largest repositories of the Wyeth artists’ work. In 1990, Andrew Wyeth was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, again the first artist to receive this honor.

Wyeth at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
In 1959, the Philadelphia Museum of Art acquired Ground Hog Day (1959), one of Wyeth’s best-known tempera paintings, in which pale sunlight rakes across a windowsill and strikes the flowered golden wallpaper of a kitchen in the Kuerner farm, Chadds Ford, where a table is set for one. The Museum has since added to its collections other important works by Wyeth, including Cooling Shed (1953), acquired in 1998, and the early tempera Public Sale (1943), acquired in 2001. Both were included in the exhibition celebrating the Museum’s 125th anniversary in 2002. These three works are currently on view in Gallery 119 of the American Wing.

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