Reflection, Illumination, Luminosity, Shadows and Patterns: Andrew Wyeth Looking Out, Looking In

Oct 17, 2014 2:49PM
"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.
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