22 January 2009

Andrew Wyeth Biography (1917 to 2009)

Andrew Newell Wyeth was born on July 12, 1917 in Chadd's Ford, Pennsylvania. His parents were Carolyn Bockius Wyeth and Newells Convers Wyeth, also an artist. Andrew was the youngest of their 5 children. Due to his frail health and a bout of whooping cough, Andrew's parents decided to home school him.

Wyeth started drawing at a very young age and, encouraged by his father, concentrated on figure studies and watercolors. His artist brother-in-law, Peter Hurd, taught him how to use egg tempura paints. Wyeth studied art history on his own.

Andrew Wyeth exhibited his works at a 1932 exhibition at Delaware Art Center.

Four years later, Wyeth exhibited at the Art Alliance in Philadelphia, Pennsyvania.

In 1937, at the age of 20, Wyeth has his first one-man show of Maine landscapes at the Macbeth Gallery in New York City which was a sell-out success. Wyeth became instantly popular.

Wyeth married Betsy James in 1940. Three years later they welcomed their first son, Nicholas.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art featured Wyeth's work in the 1943 "American Realists and Magic Realists" exhibition.

In 1945 Wyeth's father and nephew died in a car accident near the Kuerher farm in Pennsylvania. Wyeth started using this farm as subject matter as well as painting more people than previously.

The second son, James, was born in 1946 and grew up to become a successful painter himself. Wyeth painted many portraits of his boys.

In 1948 Wyeth painted "Christina's World," which is of is neighbor Christina Olson, who was paralyzed from the waist down, at her farm in Maine. His wife Betsy was the model. This is one of Wyeth's most famous paintings. He also painted pictures of his Pennsylvania neighbors, Anna and Carl Kuerners, and their farm.

The Gold Metal was awarded to Wyeth in 1952 from the American Watercolor Society.

Wyeth and his wife bought and restored a group of 18th century buildings called "The Mill" in 1958. This property is featured in several of Wyeth's paintings, including "Night Sleeper."

The Presidential Medal of Freedom was awarded to Wyeth in 1963. He was the first artist ever to receive this award.

The Gold Medal was awarded to Wyeth by the National Institute of Arts and Letters.

Cartoonist Charles. M Schultz honored Wyeth in 1966 in his Peanuts comic strip. Snoopy's doghouse had a fire and his destroyed van Gogh painting was replaced with a work by Wyeth.

Also in 1966, Wyeth's works were exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Art Institute of Chicago.

In 1970 Wyeth had retrospectives at the Boston Museum of Fine Art and the M.H. Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco.

Andrew Wyeth was elected to the Academie des Beaux Arts in 1977 and to Britain's Royal Academy in 1980.

In 1986, scandal broke out in the media when it was discovered Wyeth had been secretly painting pictures of his neighbor, Helga Testor, between 1971 and 1985, without the knowledge of Wyeth's wife or Helga's husband. A few of the painting had been given away as gifts, including "The Lovers" to Wyeth's wife, Betsy. The remaining paintings were sold to millionaire Leonard Andrews for an undisclosed amount, estimated upward of $10 million.

Bates College bestowed an honorary degree of D.F.A. upon Wyeth in 1987.

In 1988 Wyeth received the Congressional Gold Medal.

Wyeth was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2007.

In 2008, a spokesperson for the family stated that Wyeth was no longer making appearances or giving interviews.

Wyeth died at his Chadd's Ford home, in his sleep, after a short illness on January 16, 2009 at the age of 91.

Many of Wyeth's works can be found at the the following locations:

Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC
Whitney Museum of American Art,
Cincinnati Art Museum,
Museum of Modern Art in New York City;
Smithsonian American Art Museum,
National Gallery of Art;
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City;
Arkansas Art Center in Little Rock;
The White House, in Washington, DC.

Especially large collections of Wyeth's art are at:

Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania;
Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine;
Greenville County Museum of Art in Greenville, South Carolina.


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