Andrew Wyeth died. I stood in a line that went around he block in 1962 for an exhibition of his at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. I remember I admired him in my youth until other sensibilities about visual art prevailed: early on Soutine, Lebrun, French Impressionists, Picasso, German Expressionists, Kolwitz, Ernst, Kirshner, New York Expressionists followed later by Morandi, Ernst, Picasso, Diebenkorn, Hopper and significantly Guston. Of course, many others influenced me and I’ve forgotten a few I should have mentioned.
But Wyeth remained a champion to many art lovers. I always regarded him as a gifted illustrator who created a sense of nostalgia about an agrarian past that was quintessentially American and innocent, despite the loneliness and ascetic hardness of it all. This appealed to many who sought representational fidelity, a return to simplicity and a sort of Epicurean idealism, the garden life of the country, the return to nature. He work is solid and technically precise, a craftsman and storyteller in the footsteps of his father. As such it rises above much USA art of the twentieth century, especially the so-called fine art that reduces to garbage, however stylistically popular. Vapid and theoretical studies along with shallow and sentimental products, and purely decorative deconstructionist excitements have long been dismissed by this critic, albeit an amateur one.
Much of the art I‘ve admired and sought to emulate over the years has elements of unique imagination, aesthetic integrity and strong ties to the classical Western Canon. While this stance remains challenged in a culturally diverse world of a new century, it remains my influence for better or worse. I’d like to think of Wyeth as one of my early teachers. I grew very critical of him for a period and regret I was so harsh.