Monday, February 1, 2016

Wyeth Exhibit at the DAM -- one more week to see it!

I had visited the Wyeth Museum in Rockland, Maine a number of years ago and immersed myself in the art of three generations of the Wyeth family — N.C., father of Andrew and famous for his illustrations, Andrew, and son Jamie.  With the Wyeth exhibit ending its run at the DAM, I reserved a snowy Sunday to enjoy their works.  My husband, Bill, and my 94 year old dad, who has done some watercolor in the past, both enjoyed the exhibit and marveled at the diversity of both Andrew and Jamie’s talent.

The exhibit starts out with a portrait of Andrew, painted by son Jamie, and a portrait of Jamie as a boy, sitting in a field with an introspective gaze, painted by his father. Throughout the exhibit, both of their work is interspersed, grouped more by theme than chronologically. Both painted landscapes, animal, portraits and nudes.  Both employed a variety of mediums: graphite, ink, watercolor and tempera.  A video shows Jamie at work using fingers, Qtips, toothpicks and his own saliva to create his large watercolors on cardboard. Informative plaques explain technique, philosophy, humorous ramblings and history of their craft. I learned that, “Both Jamie and Andrew had rigorous artistic training.  They would practice drawing contours and geometric forms as well as working from live models.  Constant practice trained them to become acutely observant.  Both came to understand that such a background ultimately allowed them to work more freely and instinctively.”

I have always loved Andrew Wyeth’s watercolors for their austere beauty, and the fine detail he achieved with his drybrush technique.  But I was surprised at how much I enjoyed viewing Jamie’s work as well.  It often made me laugh with his humorous subject matter, and his narrative available on the audio tour at the DAM.  Jamie loved painting animals.  From his own pet dog with a painted ring around his eye (Jamie’s doing) to the seven deadly sins depicted by sea gulls, to the black faced sheep with such heavily textured wool, I was amused and intrigued. 

He went so far as to have a dead cow carcass shipped to Monhegan Island where he lived, in order to attract ravens so he could depict their likeness. 
He attracted the island’s Maine Coon cats by enticing them with catnip.  This resulted in his Maine Coon Cat painting. 

We spent an hour and a half viewing this comprehensive exhibit, spanning a number of rooms, but could have spent even longer.  If you haven’t made it over to the DAM to see it, I highly suggest making the time to do so,  before it leaves next Sunday.

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