Monday, January 19, 2009

Art world



Andrew Wyeth died the other day at age 91 at his home in Pennsylvania. Both Anya and I were surprised; I could have sworn he had died years ago. I remember seeing his work at NOMA a few years back, and even then the impression I had was that he had already died. I can only surmise that these last few years, he was not working, although I understand that he painted well into his 80's.

I'll talk about the two pics in a second.

What I find amazing is the kind of criticism that was leveled at Wyeth's work during his lifetime. Common criticisms are that Wyeth's art verges on illustration, and that his rural subject matter is sentimental. Peter Schjeldahl, art critic for The Village Voice, derided his paintings as "Formulaic stuff not very effective even as illustrational 'realism'".

Here's Time magazine's take:

Even when Wyeth is admitted into the canon, he's held a bit at arm's length. The Museum of Modern Art in New York City owns his most famous canvas, Christina's World, which it acquired in 1948, soon after it was painted, for just $1,800. But while the picture is always on display at MoMA, it's consigned to what you might call an anteroom on the margins of the more respectably modern galleries . . .


The London Times art critic even cut poor Christina's feet off. You think they would have left off the bottom of a Pollock or a Rothko?

So I ran across this story. Seems Aelita Andre will be holding her first gallery showing at the Brunswick Street Gallery in Victoria, Australia later this month. The gallery's art director was shown her work by another client of his, liked what he saw and set up the show, with lots of press and promotion.
WhenThe Age's art critic, Robert Nelson, was shown the works, his first impression was of "credible abstractions, maybe playing on Asian screens with their reds. They're heavily reliant on figure/ground relations."

One problem. Aelita Andre is 22 months old. That's right--my kid COULD paint that.

Maybe Wyeth could have been more credibly abstract; he could have paid more attention to color-shape and that old bugaboo, figure/ground relations.

Well--of the two paintings above, one was done by an artist, the other was done by someone who woke up fussy from their nap.

Go ahead--guess which one!

6 comments:

Sean said...

Fantastic! Real art for real 'Mericans is not done by the elites (even if they are 2 years old). It's done by wonderful Hollywood folks like Jon Voight, Delta Burke, and the wonderful Chuck Norris (who, in fact, does not know when you were born, but knows when you will die). Even though the right has not set that great of an example (with their post-nap incessant whining -- see why Obama Won, but we need to put that aside. It's time to get back to real 'Merican patriotism again: I bet I still have that "I love my country, but I hate my government" (the one with the confederate flag!) bumper sticker.

All is right with the world again...

Sean said...

Oh yeah, and did you see that Obama flubbed the oath. According to Fox News: he's not really President and is going to have to apologize and come back and do it again. See Malkin for more completely f'ing backwards news -- I swear the right wing lives in a parallel universe.

Petronia said...

I heard that the Justice changed it up and that's why Obama's memorized responses were messed up. I didn't see the inaug. yet, but this is what I heard.

Small Town Doc said...

@Sean--
I'm not sure what that kid has to do with either right or left or 'Mericans.

Is dissent still patriotic?
For the last 8 years did you love your country and hate your government? Or is that just a fly-over, redneck sentiment?

And Obama did not flub the oath--Roberts did. And I learned that he unnecessarily re-administered the oath just so wingnuts would shut up. The esteemed Jonathan Turley thought that it should have been re-administered anyways.

Is Gitmo closed yet? No?

Petronia said...

I personally prefer the kid's painting, but that's just because I like a lot of color. I love the analysis of her work--influenced by Asian screens. lol. My 2-yr-old painted a pretty awesome dinosaur the other day, complete with an upward reaching arm. Maybe I should try selling it!

OT: I personally hope he does finally close Gitmo, but I won't be surprised if another one opens up. Also, my dh heard someone make a good point: Obama seems to intend to keep all the same powers Bush gave himself. Interesting.

Eric Lincoln said...

Damn, I thought the kid's painting was just something Wyeth had done in his later years, very abstract and all, the last throes of a dying artist ... but no!