Karl J. Kuerner: The Continuity of Creativity

January 27, 2024 - May 20, 2024
Karl J. Kuerner (b. 1957), Breeze, 1997. Acrylic on panel, 19 x 11 1/2 in. Collection of Mr. & Mrs. John Kirk
Karl J. Kuerner (b. 1957), Surge, 2013. Acrylic on panel, 40 x 48 in. Collection of the artist
Karl J. Kuerner (b. 1957), Pennsylvania Farmer, 1996. Acrylic on panel, 34 x 58 in. Collection of the artist
Karl J. Kuerner (b. 1957), Buttonwood Tree, 1979. Oil on canvas, 24 x 24 in. Collection of the artist
Karl J. Kuerner (b. 1957), Caught in Between, 2001. Watercolor on paper, 21 x 35 in. Collection of Mr. Martin O’Rourke
Karl J. Kuerner (b. 1957), First Cutting, 1992. Acrylic on panel, 23 1/2 x 44 1/4 in. Collection of Dr. Raymond Puzio

The year 2024 marks the 25th anniversary of the Kuerner Farm as a part of the Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art.

The early 19th century farmhouse and adjacent barn is revered as a site of inspiration for Andrew Wyeth for over 70 years. The first generation of Kuerners on the farm, Karl and Anna, were the subjects of many masterful studies by Wyeth. The second generation of Kuerners, led by the philanthropic spirit of Karl Kuerner, Jr., ensured the property’s future by allowing Brandywine to acquire the farm in 1999. In the years following Wyeth’s work there, the farm has remained a place of active artistic activity and ongoing creativity due in large part to the work of Karl J. Kuerner, an artist and member of the third generation of Kuerners.  

Kuerner’s artistic commitment to the farm is reflected in his own work throughout his career. The decision to paint images of the property was a pivotal moment for Kuerner, who felt that Andrew Wyeth’s work there was of singular importance. The eighteen-year-old painter conferred with the elder artist, who encouraged him to explore the farm in his work, emphasizing the artistic potential the property held. Kuerner attended the Art Institute of Philadelphia and began meeting with Carolyn Wyeth in the early 1970s who provided advice and critiques. She arranged for his very first exhibition—a joint show with her in Chadds Ford. Many of his early works, particularly those in oil, reflect Carolyn’s strong influence on his paintings.  

The artistic possibilities Andrew Wyeth foresaw at the Kuerner Farm have been born out in Kuerner’s work as well as in the work of the many art students that he mentors on the property. A steady part of Brandywine’s programmatic interpretation at the farm, Kuerner has been offering art classes on-site for many years. Not only through his own paintings, but through the inspiration of other artists, Kuerner has advanced the artistic legacy of the farm, making it a continued site of artistic intervention. This exhibition marks the 25th anniversary of the acquisition of Kuerner Farm as well as highlighting Kuerner’s work there over the decades as he continues to mine the property’s power of creative inspiration.