Andrew Wyeth said, “My struggle is to preserve that abstract flash like something you caught out of the corner of your eye” and on numerous occasions called himself an abstract artist. Prompted by these statements, this exhibition is the first to focus on this major American artist’s interest in the abstract art of his contemporaries and the roots of his own practice in abstract methods that will be revelatory to many who think they know the full story of this iconic creative life.
A remarkable body of abstract watercolors from the Andrew & Betsy Wyeth Collection that have never previously been exhibited will take their place on the walls of the newly renovated Andrew Wyeth Gallery alongside archival materials that document his encounters with abstract expressionism and geometric abstraction. This body of work presents a collective portrait of an artist who was open to new ideas others found challenging and for whom abstraction was a legitimate and vital direction alongside the realism for which he is better known.
Abstract Flash is an exhibition in two parts of which this is the first, centering on Wyeth’s Pennsylvania abstractions. A second installment comprised entirely of Maine work will be on view at the Farnsworth Art Museum in spring-summer 2024. The exhibitions at each location will be accompanied by a selection of highlights of Wyeth’s realist work in egg tempera that show the results of these abstract beginnings.