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Andrew Wyeth: Looking Out, Looking In
Text by Nancy K. Anderson, Charles Brock.
The critically acclaimed and beautifully printed hardcover on American master artist Andrew Wyeth published by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
One of Andrew Wyeth's most important paintings, "Wind from the Sea" (1947), is also the artist's first full realization of the window as a recurring subject in his art. Wyeth returned to windows during the course of the next 60 years, producing more than 300 remarkable works that explore both the formal and conceptual richness of the subject. Absent from these spare, elegant, almost abstract paintings is the narrative element inevitably associated with Wyeth's better-known figural compositions. In 2014 the National Gallery of Art, Washington, presents an exhibition of a select group of these deceptively realistic works, window paintings that are in truth skillfully manipulated compositions centering on the visual complexities posed by the transparency, beauty and formal structure of windows. In its exclusive focus on paintings without human subjects, this catalogue offers a new approach to Wyeth's work and represents the first time that his non-figural works have been published as a group since the 1990s.
The authors explore Wyeth's fascination with windows--their formal structure and metaphorical complexity. In essays that address links with the poetry of Robert Frost and the paintings of Edward Hopper, Charles Sheeler and other artistic peers, the authors consider Wyeth's statement that he was, in fact, an abstract painter.
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 "Christina's World" (1948), Wyeth navigated between artistic representation and abstraction in a highly personal way.
Featured image, "Home Grown" (1974) © Andrew Wyeth, is reproduced from Andrew Wyeth: Looking Out, Looking In.
PRAISE AND REVIEWS
Andrew Wyeth's Olson House, 1939, from Andrew Wyeth:Looking Out, Looking In (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C), By Nancy K. Anderson and Charles Brock.
The Wall Street Journal
"Andrew Wyeth: Looking Out, Looking In" comprises 60 beautifully displayed works featuring windows. All were painted during four decades (1947-88) around Wyeth's home in Chadds Ford, Pa., and Cushing, Maine, where the artist summered. In both places he befriended neighbors and painted portraits of them and their dwellings.
The New York Review of Books
The absorbing new Wyeth exhibition, “Andrew Wyeth: Looking Out, Looking In,” is in certain respects the opposite of the Helga show, even something of an exorcism of it. Where the Helga show was dominated by a single human figure, the current exhibition is entirely without people, except for a couple of preparatory sketches... Instead of such cacophonous material, the current show is built around a single, quiet motif in many variations: the window.
The result of the carefully concieved installation, in which preparatory studies are grounded around more finished and often drastically simplified paintings, is an increasingly immersive experience, an aesthetic revelation rather than prurient one. The catalog essays, by National Gallery curators Nancy Anderson (on Wyeth's working process) and Charles Brock (comparing Wyeth's windows to two influences, Edward Hopper and the Pennsylvania precisionist Charles Sheeler), are understanded, inquisitive, and well written...
The Baltimore Sun
The works share a theme that has interested artists for centuries: windows. Wyeth's approach to that subject is as distinctive as it is haunting.
ANDREW WYETH: LOOKING OUT, LOOKING IN by Nancy Anderson and Charles Brock, assembles sixty splendidly reproduced Wyeth paintings and watercolors that employ windows as motifs. Favoring stripped-down winter landscapes and nearly empty interiors, Wyeth savored windows' ability to isolate nearly abstract forms outdoors or to transform an interior with a play of shadow-in fact, he declared himself an 'abstract painter.' But he employs light like a poet, particularly in the book's opening series of spreads, an overture of full-bleed details with metaphoric resonance, which announce Wyeth's visual themes: reflection, illumination, luminosity, shadows and patterns.
W.L. K Whitwell
This catalogue for a National Gallery of Art exhibition uses Wind from the Sea (l947, tempera on hardboard), showing a window with a blowing curtain, as exemplifying a major theme of Wyeth's. The window depicted is in the second story of the house where Wyeth had a studio (the house depicted in his famous Christina's World ). This reassessment of Wyeth's achievement features an introduction by curators Anderson and Brock (both, National Gallery) on windows as subject matter in Wyeth's paintings. They found some 300 window images in Wyeth's oeuvre. In the first essay "Wind from the Sea: Painting Truth beneath the Facts," Anderson looks at the creation and provenance of the painting from Wyeth's easel to the National Gallery in 2009, and its relationships to poetry of Robert Frost. Brock's essay, "Through a Glass: The Window in the Art of Andrew Wyeth, Charles Sheeler, and Edward Hopper," compares Wyeth with these other leaders of American realism, using windows as a theme. Also discussed is the role of women in their work. This intriguing catalogue is significant for the seriousness and depth of its insights (often lacking in Wyeth commentary). It includes beautiful color plates and a 60-item exhibition checklist. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-level undergraduates and above; general readers.
STATUS: Out of stock indefinitely.
FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 5/1/2014
The haunting 1972 tempera painting on panel, "Off at Sea" (© Andrew Wyeth), is reproduced from Andrew Wyeth: Looking Out, Looking In, the essential exhibition catalogue to the blockbuster show opening at the National Gallery of Art this Sunday, May 4. In her opening essay, exhibition curator Nancy K. Anderson quotes Betsy Wyeth, the artist's wife, who "explained that the phrase 'off at sea' had particular meaning for those with deep roots in seafaring Maine. The reference is to people 'gone,' 'lost,' 'off at sea.' Thus the coat hanger without a coat — the spare wire casting a soft shadow against a clapboard wall — becomes the pictorial equivalent of the graveyard out the window in 'Wind from the Sea.' An eerie light sets the tone. Elegant in its apparent simplicity, 'Off at Sea' openly displays the abstract armature — the skeletal structure — that invariably lies beneath the surface of Wyeth’s finest paintings. Firm in his belief that a painting should be both abstract and realistic, Wyeth skillfully pared his subject to the bone, creating another haunted meditation on death." continue to blog
FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 6/2/2014
In the June 19 issue of the New York Review of Books, Christopher Benfey reviews three books surrounding Looking Out, Looking In, the "absorbing new Wyeth exhibition" at the National Gallery of Art "built around a single, quiet motif in many variations: the window. The result of the carefully conceived installation, in which preparatory studies are grouped around more finished and often drastically simplified (in Wyeth's phrase, 'boiling down) paintings, is an increasingly immersive experience, an aesthetic revelation rather than a prurient one. The catalog essays, by National Gallery curators Nancy Anderson (on Wyeth's working process) and Charles Brock (comparing Wyeth's windows to two influences, Edward Hopper and the Pennyslvania precisionist Charles Sheeler), are understated, inquisitive, and well written—in English that, as Marianne Moore once said, cats and dogs can understand." Read more about Andrew Wyeth: Looking Out, Looking In and Andrew Wyeth: A Spoken Self-Portrait. "Olson House" (1966), © Andrew Wyeth, is reproduced from Andrew Wyeth: Looking Out, Looking In. continue to blog
FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 9/8/2014
"Andrew Wyeth's art of the late '40s, following his father's tragic death in 1945, is suffused by a yearning for home that is expressed poignantly in a small tempera painting, "Wind from the Sea," completed in 1947 and donated to the National Gallery of Art (Washington, DC) soon after Wyeth's death in 2009. Andrew Wyeth: Looking Out, Looking In, by Nancy Anderson and Charles Brock (National Gallery/ARTBOOK | D.A.P.), assembles sixty splendidly reproduced Wyeth paintings and watercolors that employ windows as motifs. Favoring stripped-down winter landscapes and nearly empty interiors, Wyeth savored windows' ability to isolate nearly abstract forms outdoors, or to transform an interior with a play of shadows—in fact, he declared himself an "abstract painter." But he employs light like a poet (Robert Frost was a great admirer of "Wind from the Sea"), particularly in the book's opening series of spreads, an overture of full-bleed details with metaphoric resonance, which announce Wyeth's visual themes: reflection, illumination, luminosity, shadows, and patterns. Like his most famous work, "Christina's World," "Wind from the Sea" melds the poetic with the intensely observed. Sound, smell, and touch are evoked by a brown, wintery landscape and a sliver of sea viewed through a window, whose tattered, thin curtains billow inward. Embroidered in the curtains' design are barn swallows, with their deeply forked tails, which appear to swoop over the dormant field like ghosts of summer." – Christopher Lyon, Bookforum. "Wind from the Sea" (1941) © Andrew Wyeth, is reproduced from Andrew Wyeth: Looking Out, Looking In. continue to blog
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