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Andrew Wyeth: In Memoriam

January 29–May 3, 2009

(1917–2009) Born in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, thirty miles southwest of Philadelphia, the late Andrew Wyeth was educated at home and apprenticed to his celebrated father, the painter and illustrator Newell Convers (N. C.) Wyeth. He made his solo debut at the Philadelphia Art Alliance in 1936, at the age of eighteen, and was launched on the national scene the following year with a sold-out exhibition at the Macbeth Gallery in New York. Building on that early success, Wyeth proved to be a painter of profound imagination, skill, and staying power across seven turbulent decades. Both admired and criticized for the tenacity of his realist approach and the unabashed emotion in his paintings, he produced some of the most famous and haunting images of the twentieth century. Celebrating Wyeth's extraordinary life and work, this installation consists of two paintings and seven drawings. "All I want to do is paint," said Wyeth, "and I paint the things I know best." The everyday things found in and around his homes in Pennsylvania and Maine resonated with emotion for Wyeth, offering him pathways into memory and fantasy. His paintings of "things" were rarely straightforward, realistic descriptions: usually, the subjects have been simplified in the process of study, manipulated, and layered with personal associations, metaphors, and symbols that express larger themes of loss, death, and the passage of time. A sequence of studies leading to the creation of his tempera painting Groundhog Day (see left) demonstrates the transformation and distillation of observation that characterizes Wyeth's finest work.

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Michael Taylor • The Muriel and Philip Berman Curator of Modern Art

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