(July 12, 1917 – January 16, 2009)
A note from Radarsite: Take note: A part of America has just passed away. A great artist of powerful yet understated and subtle vision. A truly American artist, a beloved painter whose poignant works have successfully bridged the gap between expert and layman and spoken to us all and moved us all. Like his equally famous American contemporary, Edward Hopper, he is known as a master of loneliness, yet there is so much more to their work than this. They speak to us of a different America, a quiet, introspective, more profound and soulful America, an America far removed from the glamor and glitz with which we are (so mistakenly, I believe) universally associated.
Bon voyage, Andrew, may you rest in peace. America will miss you. – rg
A postscript: This is in reply to Findalis’ interesting reference to the controversies surrounding Wyeth (and others) work in the 80s.
As many of you may already know, my background is in art — I attended the New York Art Students League and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (Wyeth’s alma mater). There are some interesting analogies between the liberals’ hatred of artists like Hopper and Wyeth, and the liberals hatred of Reagan and G. W. Bush. That’s why I mentioned that Wyeth had ‘bridged the gap between the experts and the layman’. Both the working artists and the interested laymen loved and appreciated Wyeth’s work. But those in between, those pseudo-intellectuals soon assumed the pose of disdain for what they considered to be commonplace realism. They had moved beyond that inferior art form long ago. Realism — i.e., painting things as they appeared to the eye — was out and obscurantism was in. Beginning in the late sixties with pop artists like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein and pure abstract expressionists like Kline and Pollack and others, and culminating in the furious collecting mania of the 80s, the New York art world was effectively taken over by the elitist liberal left. Academic (traditional or figurative) art — was demoted and looked down upon as second rate and intellectually inferior to abstract or non-objective art, or its various New Age offshoots, such as op art, anti-art, etc. In other words, the pseudo-intellectuals took over and the layman was almost completely — and, I think, quite purposely — alienated, effectively left out in the cold. “Artists” vied with one another to see who could be more avant-garde, who could be more outrageous. A painter was deemed important only if those critics who were deemed important said that they were important. The average person had no say in this matter whatsoever. To mouth the abstruse — and often meaningless — jargon of the art critics, the more obscure the better, (such as, ‘plastic orchestration’, metaphysical harmony’, etc.) became a sign of one’s superior intellect — and just another way of separating oneself from the unlettered herd.
In the late 1950s, I had a one-man show of my work at a prestigious gallery in Rittenhouse Square, in Philadelphia (It was, in fact, so prestigious that I wasn’t allowed in to view my own work until I had borrowed a tie from a friend). I remember sitting on a bench in the center of this rather elegant display area, surrounded by my work on the walls, and listening to the conversations of the visitors as they circled the room, commenting on my paintings and drawings. It was so phony, so pretentious, that I almost started to laugh at them. I was the artist. It was my work, and I think I understood it and what it was intended to convey, but these Sunday connoisseurs were attributing meanings and motives to my paintings and drawings that I neither comprehended nor intended.
Well now, here we go again, folks. Once again the liberal elitists have won out. They hated GWB for some of the same reasons they hated Andrew Wyeth, and now once again they will be telling us what is suppossed to be important and what is not.
God help us all. – rg
For more on Andrew Wyeth click here