'American Masters' looks at the world of Andrew Wyeth
● By J. Chambless
The studio of Andrew Wyeth, which has been opened to visitors. (Photo by Carlos Alejandro)
In a brand-new Andrew Wyeth documentary
on the PBS series “American Masters,” viewers can go behind the
scenes of the Brandywine River Museum of Art, its historic Wyeth
properties and collections, and explore the area that three
generations of Wyeth artists called home.
Airing on Sept. 7, “WYETH: The Life of Andrew Wyeth Told in Bold Strokes” captures a complete portrait of Wyeth’s world, with unprecedented access to the artist’s work, archival materials, and interviews with family members, friends and scholars.
“WYETH” tells the story of one of America’s best-known artists. It captures the Brandywine River Museum of Art and its surrounding properties, including footage shot in the artist’s studio, childhood home, his father N.C. Wyeth’s studio, and Kuerner Farm.
Andrew Wyeth painted many of his most important works of art in his Chadds Ford studio. Given to the Brandywine by the artist’s wife, Betsy James Wyeth, the studio now provides visitors with an opportunity to experience this personal space where Wyeth painted from 1940 until 2008.
Thousands of works of art are associated with this studio, inspired by the people, architecture and landscapes of Chadds Ford. The studio still houses the furnishings, library and collections acquired by the artist, as well as examples of the art materials he used throughout his career.
On tours of N.C. Wyeth’s House & Studio, visitors are immersed in the childhood home of Andrew Wyeth, where his artist father, N.C., nourished a family of extraordinary creativity. His house and studio, located five minutes from the museum, retain much of their original character. The main studio still contains many of the props that were essential to the work of an illustrator, including a birch-bark canoe hanging from the rafters and a collection of firearms. The house, with its country furnishings, reveals a more intimate picture of family life. Guided tours of both properties introduce visitors to the various aspects of Wyeth’s accomplished career and to the other members of his talented family.
“WYETH” tells the story of one of America’s most popular, but least understood, artists. Coming from a family of successful artists, including his commanding father, Andrew was raised to be an artist. Unprecedented access to archival footage from the Wyeth family reveals his early immersion in a creative world.
Andrew Wyeth exhibitions consistently broke attendance records at the most prestigious art museums across the country. Detailing the drawings and portraits created in Pennsylvania and on the coast of Maine, the documentary shows the artist’s mastery of the form and why his work appealed to audiences around the world. He confidently continued to paint the people and places he knew, undeterred by the dramatic evolution of the art world. His sensational paintings of Helga Testorf landed cover stories in both Time and Newsweek. Interviews with family and friends, including Helga, demonstrate the effect on Andrew of living and working in the public eye.
Art critics and historians are rediscovering and reinterpreting his work. Layers of complexity in the art are revealed and celebrated by some of the most preeminent scholars of American art.
After the premiere of the new documentary on PBS, it will be available to stream beginning on Sept. 8 at www.pbs.org/americanmastersand on PBS apps. It also will be available at the Brandywine's Museum Shop on DVD.