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October 09, 1967 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1967-10-09
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7 -



Maybe it is formula painting,
but he has a relentiess eye that
makes art

The Daily Ma

Continued from Page 15

a bleak tundra with wind billowing
in his long coat. Wyeth says he saw
Loper "as a ship's figurehead .
moving like hell."
"Alexander C h a n dl e r" and
"Grandfather" portray a blind aged
Negro who guarded his grandchil-
dren as they played outdoors. When
one of the grandchildren strayed out
of earshot, Chandler would call
them back by rapping his cane on
the wall of his house. In "Grand-
daughter," one of the kids, arro-
gant with youth, awakens a dozing
Chandler to ask some questions. The
granddaughter, seven years later, is
dressed and shy as she awaits an
afternoon outing in "Day of the
There are others: Adam Johnson
is a heavy and very deaf man who
cleans his pigeon pens lost in con-
centration as starlings dart above
him. Tom Clark's ancestry is a mys-

tery of Spanish, Arab, Negro and In-
dian blood, and in six paintings
Wyeth tried to capture his long,
lean frame and overpowering digni-
Discussions of Wyeth's paintings
of Negroes are artificial because
those paintings fall smoothly among
the others. Wyeth's work is a contin-
uing study of persons, places and
things which strike him as he finds
- and relocates - them.
Andy was born into a home filled
with art and true-life imagination.
His father "N.C. spouted Shake-
speare as he dosed his children with
castor oil, encouraged them to set
up toy theatres all over the house
and persuaded them well up into
their teens that Santa Claus did in-
deed exist," says TIME.
Above all, N. C. gave his children
a sense of vigorous artistry which
produced a second generation dy-

nasty of some of America's most
lively art. N. C. was the children's
book illustrator of muscular Indi-
ans and pirates, Robin Hood and
Long John Silver. Henrietta, the eld-
est child, became a painter and mar-
ried America's greatest contempo-
rary western artist, Peter Hurd. An-
dy's sister Caroline became a paint-
er. Although Ann became a musi-
cian, she married one of N.C.'s stu-
dents, John McCoy. Nathaniel
Wyeth became a research engineer
for DuPont - and the youngest
child was Andy.
When he was not playing Robin
Hood with the neighborhood kids,
Andy painted watercolors of Sher-
wood Forest-type scenes. His first
serious paintings were splashy wa-
tercolors: vigorous but happy pic-
tures of New England scenes and
In October, 1945, N. C. was killed

when his car was struck by a train
- and- Andy's world collapsed. By
"Winter 1946" Wyeth's new art
emerged: paintings of persons, plac-
es and things spread on long bland
hills which touch phosphorescent
horizons. In "Winter 1946" a neigh-
bor boy in a World War II uniform
runs - almost falls - off the bar-
ren hill.
In 1947 Wyeth painted "Wind
From the Sea" in which a long wind
pushes through dry lace curtains.
Mysteriously, a range of squat, hori-
zontally branching trees on the hori-
zon seem to be pulled into the back-
ground by some hook in the canvas.
"Wind from the Sea" was Robert
Frost's favorite picture.
"Christina's World," the emotional
blockbuster of American painting,
was done in 1948. Christina Olson
lived with her brother on a farm
near the Wyeth's summer home in
Main. In the picture, Christina, who
is a polio victim, crawls on the typ-
ically Wyeth-style hill which is her
world. Elements of the painting
have the creative detail Wyeth
works into much o his art. The typ-
ically fluorescent sky gleams in a
thin robin-egg blue. Christina's
dress is the pink of certain sea
shells. Christina's belt is the type of
belt kids at camp put together out
of double triangles of leather. A pair
of long johns hang from a clothes-
line; crows rise vertically from the
barn on the hilltop. A ladder stands
against Christina's house waiting
for a roof job never completed.
For 16 years Wyeth continued to
paint this world: he found one of
his sons lost in thought and in his
coonskin cap and civil war era
boots for "Waraway"; he found his
wife and dog Rattler dozing during
a berry pcking expedition as "Dis-
tant Thunder" broke overhead; he
found a two-master moored - per-
haps forever - for "The Slip."
But as Wyeth's popularity boom-
ed in the '60's, his art became more
sophisticated. His colors became
richer, his perspectives to his fading
world became almost surrealistic.
And Wyeth began to paint his warm
Rembrantian portraits, life - size
canvasses of his people and their
souls. Wyeth had matured.
Wyeth, now 50, has given America
one of its finest success 'sagas. What
he did he did very well, but only
with all of his strength and all of
his mind. He is the central figure
of an artistic dynasty which has
grabbed the attention of at least
part of a nation more used to the
simple dramas of "Father Knows
Best." And although Wyeth contin-
ues to paint, his son James (the one
in coonskin for "Faraway" in 1952)
is painting today with the same en-
ergy. James, it seams, is cutting in
on his father's considerable action.



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