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Jamie Wyeth retrospective will look back at 60 years

12/31/2014 07:55AM ● Published by J. Chambless

Jamie Wyeth signs autographs at the Brandywine River Museum of Art in 2013.

Considering how vital a part of the regional art scene Jamie Wyeth has been for some six decades, it's hard to believe that his largest retrospective exhibition hasn't been done up to this point. But on Jan. 15, the Brandywine River Museum of Art in Chadds Ford is bringing together more than 100 of Wyeth's works for the first time in “Jamie Wyeth,” which will be on view through April 5.

“We are thrilled to present the largest and most comprehensive survey of Jamie Wyeth's art ever to 
be assembled,” said Thomas Padon, the director of the museum. “Jamie Wyeth's paintings find special resonance here – in the galleries amidst our collection of paintings by his highly talented family and in the location of his childhood home, his first studio and his most consistent muse, the Brandywine Valley. Wyeth's feverish creative vision is powerfully conveyed in the extraordinary works in this exhibition.”

The breadth of Wyeth's work will be examined in childhood drawings, exceptional portraits including "Portrait of Shorty" (1963), completed while he was still a teenager, by his haunting views of coastal Maine and the Brandywine River areas, and his vivid portraits of animals.

Born into a family of exceptional artists, Wyeth never met his grandfather, N.C. Wyeth, but grew 
up under the tutelage of his father, Andrew Wyeth, and his aunt, Carolyn Wyeth. Although Jamie never took formal art classes, he learned from Carolyn and by studying the works of his father and grandfather.

Wyeth's exceptionally diverse career has included a stint working in the NASA "Eyewitness to Space" program, working with Andy Warhol's Factory art mecca in new York City, painting ballet great Rudolph Nureyev and a landmark posthumous portrait of John F. Kennedy.

Inspired by how animals look and act, he has captured dogs, birds and barnyard animals in surprising settings. He completed a series of works depicting the seven deadly sins as seen in seagulls.

In Maine, his work turns inward, away from the dramatic surf, to show the people and places that have become major inspirations. In the last several years, Wyeth has been depicting figures from his past ­­ including Warhol and Andrew Wyeth, as well as Winslow Homer and N.C. Wyeth ­­ standing contemplatively on the rocky shoreline of Monhegan Island, where Wyeth has a home.

One of the works in the exhibition, "Voyeur" (2012), showing a seated Warhol. "In 'Voyeur,' Warhol's pale figure materializes on the rocky coast like a restless spirit, eternally watching and recording life through his ever­present camera," said Amanda C. Burdan, associate curator at the Brandywine River Museum of Art.

Other new works will include "Sleepwalker" (2013) and two mixed­media assemblages that Wyeth calls "tableaux vivants" ­­ "The Factory Dining Room" and "La Cote Basque" (2013), recalling the artist's days in New York in the 1970s.

An illustrated catalogue will be available. After the exhibition's run at the Brandywine, it will move to the San Antonio Museum of Art (April 26 to July 5, 2015), and the Crystal Bridges Museum of Art (July 23­Oct. 4, 2015).

Programs scheduled in conjunction with "Jamie Wyeth" include:

"Loves and Obsessions" lecture (Feb. 4, 6 p.m.). Elliot Bostwick Davis, curator of the 
exhibition, discusses Wyeth's themes. A reception will follow. Tickets are $20.

­­ "The Art of Jamie Wyeth Tour" (Fridays and Saturdays from Feb. 6 to March 14. Tours are at 10 and 11:30 a.m., and 1:30 and 3 p.m.). Guided tours leave from the museum to visit the N.C. Wyeth Studio, where Jamie studied painting with his aunt; and the Andrew Wyeth Studio, which was the home and studio of Andrew and Betsy Wyeth, and their two sons, Jamie and Nicholas. Jamie Wyeth used the studio to paint works including "Draft Age" and "Portrait of John F. Kennedy."

Tickets are $10 in addition to museum admission.

­­ Curator's tours of "Jamie Wyeth" exhibition (Feb. 25 and March 25 at 2 p.m.), led by associate curator Amanda C. Burdan.

The Brandywine River Museum of Art (Route 1, Chadds Ford) is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $12 for adults, $8 for seniors, $6 for students and ages 6 to 12, free for children under 6 and members. Visit www.brandywinemuseum.org, or call 610­388­8326.

In conjunction with the Brandywine exhibit, the Somerville Manning Gallery in Greenville, Del., will also be hosting a Jamie Wyeth show. "Jamie Wyeth: Paintings From Six Decades" will be on view from Jan. 16 to March 7. The show features paintings from the 1960s through today.

The exhibition consists of oil paintings, watercolors, and mixed­media works, with a number of the paintings focusing on portraits of dogs, gulls and animals. One of Wyeth's most iconographic subjects is depicted in the 1969 watercolor, "Pig." The 1980s and 1990s are represented in the show by works such as "Gulls of Monhegan No. 1" and "A Couple of Chairs Sitting Around the Coast of Maine," which explore the classic Maine landscape and its inhabitants. Wyeth's sense of humor is evident in his paintings of animals, such as "Goose Lays Golden Egg" and "Angry Chicken, Puzzled Duck," from the 21 publicly for the first time.

For more information, visit www.somervillemanning.com.

To contact Staf Writer John Chambless, e­mail jchambless@chestercounty.com.

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