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FROM OUR FILES: Andrew Wyeth - show probes the man and his art

Andrew Wyeth, who died today, was one of the best-known American artists of the 20th century. His intuition and allusive paintings were the focus of this 1976 exhibit review.

American artist Andrew Wyeth near his Chadds Ford, Penn., home in February, 1964. Wyeth, who was part of a three-generation family of artists including his father N.C. Wyeth and son Jamie Wyeth, found the settings of rural Pennsylvania and Maine were inspiration for many of his paintings.

Bill Ingraham/AP/File

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From the December 9, 1976 issue of The Christian Science Monitor


Andrew Wyeth is probably the best-known 20th-century painter in the United States, with the possible exception of Norman Rockwell and Grandma Moses. Whether it is familiarity or realism that has bred contempt in critical circles is difficult to judge, but paintings by the immortalizer of the lonely landscape and its intrepid inhabitants in Cushing, Maine, and Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, have been variously vilified as "sickenly popular, purposefully reactionary, and coldly trite," recounts Thomas P.F. Hoving, director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Protesting that Wyeth has been the victim of too much packaging and labeling, Mr. Hoving pledges himself in his foreword to the catalog of the current Wyeth exhibition "to examine Wyeth very closely, without preconceptions or labels: to oberseve, to reveal, perhaps to complicate rather than simplify his work."


Mr. Hoving organized the exhibition and has brought an art-historical approach to bear upon Wyeth. Rumor has it that Mr. Hoving could not find anyone else at the Met willing or able to handle the exhibition, so he leaped into the breach with surprising alacrity and scholarly zeal.


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