Friday, June 22, 2012

Arty Farty Friday ~ Andrew Wyeth

There's no lack of artists with natal Sun in zodiac sign Cancer. I've already featured some of them in past Arty Farty Friday posts. With relevant links, these are: Kahlo, Hockney, Degas, Calder, Hopper.

Still to tackle are Cancerians: Chagall, Whistler (thought I'd "done" them but can't locate the posts), and Rembrandt; and.....there's another Cancerian artist, much loved in the USA:

Andrew Wyeth (1917 - 2009).

Sources for biographical details:
An obituary piece By Henry Allen and Bart BarnesWashington Post Staff Writers, January 17, 2009.
And from a brief
Astrodatabank bio.

Andrew was born in a Pennsylvania farming village. He was a frail boy, the youngest of five children. His mother was Pennsylvania Dutch with family in Lancaster County and his father was Swiss. His father was a benevolent tyrant, dominating his five offspring while encouraging them to be geniuses by allowing only the best music, the best poetry in the house. Andrew was his favorite, a "daddy's boy."

On his 22nd birthday, Andrew met Betsy James. Against his father's wishes, they married in May 1940. One ruler had replaced another. Betsy assumed control over his life and work. He relied on her fine critical eye, but needed periods of escape.

In 1945, his father stalled his car on a railroad crossing in Chadds Ford, and a train killed him and his daughter's 4-year-old son. ..."When he died, I was just a clever watercolorist - lots of swish and swash," Wyeth said. Soon he produced the unsettling tempera "Winter 1946," (below) in which a boy runs down a winter hill, casting a wild lurch of a shadow on dead grass. As it happens, on the other side of the hill is the railroad crossing.
(NOTE: There is a correction to detail of the above in the comments below).

Andrew Wyeth's "signature" style was "in making unhappiness beautiful, in the manner of Edward Hopper, Mark Rothko, Ernest Hemingway or Miles Davis".

He became more reclusive as he grew older and famous, though he was said to be a tease and a mimic with friends, a good story-teller.

His paintings give away his inner solitude, and possibly some repressed anger.

His style is defined as realist but because the objects in his paintings are metaphors, he can also be considered an abstractionist.

In the years between 1970-1985, Wyeth secretly painted a Pennsylvania neighbour, Helga Testorf, often in the nude. He had completed 65 paintings of Helga when his wife discovered his secret, almost destroying their marriage.

Wyeth's work was never beloved by critics, but was loved and defended by Americans because of the way his paintings made them feel - about themselves and their country -a country not of the 21st century, but one fast disappearing.

The obituary piece linked above begins:

Andrew Wyeth, best-loved painter of wistfulness, rural bleakness, menace, Puritanical solitude and an America lost to 20th-century dry rot, died yesterday morning in his sleep at the Wyeth family estate in Chadds Ford, Pa., between Philadelphia and Wilmington, Del. He was 91. He died in just the sort of weather he loved, the empty cold and the sharp sunlight of the dead of winter.....................


Data from Astrodatabank.

I'll not ramble on about Wyeth's chart, I'll pick out what I see as the astro-signature of his unique art style.
It's not exactly in his sensitive Cancerian Sun and Mercury, it's more to be found in Saturn/Neptune/Venus conjoined in Leo and semi-sextile Pluto in Cancer.

Translation: Saturn (hard, realistic coldness; also business sense). Neptune (creativity) Venus (art). Pluto (darkness or death, obsession). All are ingredients of his style, a blend of the astrological input.

The cluster of Leo planets is in helpful sextile to Jupiter (expansive, publication) in Gemini (communication) exactly on the ascendant, and translates to Wyeth's ability to communicate the feeling in his work to a large audience.

Christina's World

One of Wyeth's best known paintings:

The woman in the painting was the artist's neighbor in Maine, who, crippled by polio, "was limited physically but by no means spiritually." Wyeth: "The challenge to me was to do justice to her extraordinary conquest of a life which most people would consider hopeless."

Albinos Study



Ground Hog Day

From Smithsonian website~

Wyeth also says that “intensity—painting emotion into objects,” is what he cares about most. His 1959 painting Groundhog Day, for instance, appears to portray a cozy country kitchen. Only gradually does the viewer become aware that there’s something off, something uncomfortable, strangely surreal, about the painting. The only cutlery on the table is a knife. Outside the window, a barbed-wire fence and jagged log wrapped in a chain dominate the landscape. As Kathleen Foster notes in her catalog essay, the painting adds up to a portrait of Wyeth’s neighbor, the volatile, gun-loving Karl Kuerner, and his troubled wife, Anna. Far from cozy, the painting suggests the violence and even madness that often simmers beneath the surface of daily life.

Day Dream


Wisewebwoman said...

thanks for this, T. I am a huge fan of his work and take something different away every time I study one of his paintings, they are so haunting.


Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~~ I like the muted colours he uses. His paintings have a very distinctive atmosphere.
Not sure I'd put one on the living room wall, but good to gaze upon elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

The child who was killed with N.C. Wyeth on the railroad tracks was the son of N.C.'s son (not daughter) Nathaniel. Nathaniel invented the material for the plastic soda bottle that is still in use today. His wife's name was Caroline, very similar to his sister's name Carolyn, therein perhaps is the confusion about whose son was killed.

Twilight said...

Anonymous ~~~ Many thanks for that information. I have now placed a note beneath the paragraph involved pointing readers towards your comment.