To mark the 100th anniversary of Andrew Wyeth’s birth, the Brandywine River Museum of Art and the Seattle Art Museum organized an exhibition of over one hundred of his finest paintings and works on papers selected from major museums and private collections.
Co-curated by Audrey Lewis (Curator, Brandywine River Museum of Art) and Patricia Junker (the Ann M. Barwick Curator of American Art at the Seattle Art Museum), Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect was the first career retrospective of the artist since his death in 2009. This exhibition explored how the artist’s work evolved over the decades and connected him more fully to traditions in American and European art. His career arc was also explored, noting the critical responses to his work, as well as his immense public success. New interpretations were offered on the significance of outside influences on his work, such as film and war, and on the subjects and themes that occupied him throughout his career.
Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect brought together both well-known and rarely seen works created between the mid-1930s and Wyeth’s death in 2009 that revealed the subjects that continually inspired Wyeth and the evolution of his imagery. Organized chronologically, the exhibition examined Wyeth’s unrelenting realism in the context of the twentieth century, looking at how outside forces shaped the artist’s choice of subjects and his approach to portraying the people, places and things that reflect the internal musings of a complicated man. As the exhibition revealed, Wyeth continually pared down his subject matter, iteratively distilling the essence of character—real and imagined—hidden beneath the surface of his subjects. The exhibition, which opened at the Brandywine River Museum of Art in June 2017, followed by its presentation at the Seattle Art Museum beginning in October 2017, introduced Wyeth to new audiences as well as allow those familiar with his work to revisit his contributions to twentieth-century American art.
The exhibition was accompanied by a catalogue, published by Yale University Press. The catalogue offers significant firsts in Wyeth studies: it lays out the first detailed timeline of Wyeth’s full career; it presents the first contextual examination of the career decade by decade; and it offers new, in-depth analysis of key aspects of his work by both young and established Wyeth scholars from the U.S. and Japan. The catalogue is intended to be a foundation for subsequent Wyeth studies.
Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect was generously made possible by The Davenport Family Foundation, Anson and Debra Beard, Jr., The Robert J. Kleberg, Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation, The Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts, Inc., Bank of America and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support was provided by the donors to the Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art 50th Anniversary Campaign, The Matz Family Charitable Fund, Sotheby’s and Christie’s. This exhibition was also supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.
Support of the exhibition’s educational programs was provided by Somerville Manning Gallery.