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Andrew Wyeth: Life and Death
Edited with text by Tanya Sheehan. Foreword by Jacqueline Terrassa. Text by Karen Baumgartner, Rachael Z. DeLue, Alexander Nemerov.
Presenting recently rediscovered drawings, Life and Death explores what it means for an artist to picture their own death, in both the context of Wyeth’s late career and contemporary American art
This volume presents for the first time a recently rediscovered series of pencil drawings from the early 1990s, through which Wyeth imagined his own funeral. Chapters by leading art historians explore the significance of picturing one’s own death in both the context of Wyeth’s late career and contemporary American art. The book connects the funeral series to Wyeth’s decades-long engagement with death as an artistic subject in painting, his relationships with the models depicted, and his use of drawing as an expressive and exploratory medium. It further inserts Wyeth’s work into a larger conversation about mortality and self-portraiture that developed in American art since the 1960s, and includes works by Duane Michals, Andy Warhol, David Wojnarowicz, George Tooker, Janaina Tschäpe and Mario Moore. While his contemporaries posed a variety of existential questions in picturing their own passing, those that interrogate the universality of death as a human experience have become especially urgent in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and the national reckoning with racial inequality that emerged in 2020. Andrew Wyeth: Life and Death thus addresses ideas about loss, grief, vulnerability and (im)mortality that pervade the current moment.
American painter Andrew Wyeth (1917–2009) lived his entire life in his birthplace of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and his summer home in mid-coast Maine. His seven-decade career was spent painting the land and people that he knew and cared about. Renowned for his tempera painting Christina's World (1948), Wyeth navigated between artistic representation and abstraction in a highly personal way.
"Dr. Syn " (1981) is reproduced from 'Andrew Wyeth: Life and Death.'
PRAISE AND REVIEWS
Takes a stark, unflinching view of death. … Puts Wyeth into direct dialogue with some of his more conceptually minded contemporaries, including David Wojnarowicz, Janaina Tschäpe, and Andy Warhol. Unlike the other Andy’s ‘Skulls’ screen print, 1976, Wyeth’s lost studies refuse to relegate death to the world of spectacle.
These are honest, personal drawings, a mixture of unaffected sketches which were made quickly as brief compositional notes and sensitive portrait studies.
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FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 6/5/2022
Drawn somewhere between 1991 and 1994, “Helen Sipala 2” is reproduced from Andrew Wyeth: Life and Death, published to accompany the exhibition on view at Colby College Museum of Art. Collecting a series of recently rediscovered and previously unpublished pencil drawings made all the more relevant by our ongoing experience of mortality during the pandemic, this volume represents an important new subject in Wyeth's oeuvre: his own funeral. “About two decades before his private funeral in January 2009, Andrew Wyeth set the stage for the solemn event,” Tanya Sheehan writes. “What he envisioned in more than fifty sketches was a winter’s day on Kuerner’s Hill, close to Wyeth’s home in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and within sight of the location of the automobile accident that took the lives of his father and nephew. Heads bowed, faces serene, and hands clasped or resting on the coffin’s edge, Wyeth’s devoted wife and a small group of locals who served as models across his career would come together to mourn the aged painter." She concludes, "Ultimately it is my hope that Wyeth’s funeral drawings, when situated in the contemporary scene, can help Americans manage their own complex feelings about and vivid memories of death in the wake of 2020.”
Helen Sipala 2 (Funeral Group), ca. 1991–94. Pencil on paper. © 2021 Andrew Wyeth/Artists Rights Society (ARS). The Phyllis and Jamie Wyeth Collection
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DELMONICO BOOKS/COLBY COLLEGE MUSEUM OF ART
USD $40.00 | CAN $54 UK £ 32
Pub Date: 6/7/2022
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THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, NEW YORK
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Pub Date: 7/31/2012
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