The Continuity of Creativity opens at the Brandywine Museum of Art on Jan. 27
In 2024, the Brandywine Museum of Art will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of acquiring Kuerner Farm—a National Historic Landmark that was a revered site of creative inspiration for artist Andrew Wyeth for over seven decades—which was generously donated to the Brandywine by the late Karl Kuerner Jr. and his family.
In celebration of this anniversary, the Brandywine Museum will present Karl J. Kuerner: The Continuity of Creativity, a special exhibition that will honor the continued artistic legacy of this site. On view Jan. 27 through May 19, The Continuity of Creativity will examine how Karl J. Kuerner’s artistic commitment to the farm is reflected in his own work through 19 paintings spanning more than 40 years and created across mediums, including works in watercolor, oil and acrylic.
Featuring an early nineteenth-century farmhouse and an adjacent barn situated on 33 acres of land, Kuerner Farm was home to Karl and Anna Kuerner, who arrived as German immigrant farmers in the 1920s and were the subjects of many masterful studies by Andrew Wyeth throughout their lives. The second generation of Kuerners, led by the philanthropic spirit of Karl Kuerner Jr., ensured the property’s future by facilitating Brandywine’s acquisition of the farm in 1999. In the years following Wyeth’s work there, the farm has remained a place of vibrant 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 to farm the land.
Kuerner’s body of work reflects the centrality of the farm to his artistic practice. His first depictions of it proved to be a pivotal moment for the artist, who felt that Andrew Wyeth’s work there was of singular importance. When Kuerner was eighteen years old, Wyeth encouraged him to explore the farm in his own work, emphasizing the artistic potential the property held. Kuerner later attended the Art Institute of Philadelphia and was also mentored by artist Carolyn Wyeth, Andrew’s older sister, in the early 1970s, who provided valuable advice and critiques. She arranged for his very first exhibition—a joint show with her at the Chadds Ford Gallery in 1977. Many of Kuerner’s early works, particularly those in oil, reflect Carolyn’s strong influence on his paintings.
Featured works in The Continuity of Creativity include landscapes, still lifes, and portraits that explore many aspects of farm life. From his insider’s point of view, Kuerner reveals the farm as a site of a personal history to which he is deeply connected. This is augmented in the exhibition with an overview of the family history on the farm, including many photographs drawn from the Kuerner family archives. Kuerner offers intimate views of the property and heartfelt portraits of the people who worked the land that are both specific to his family and convey a broader sense of immigrant and farm life in the United States.
“The artistic possibilities Andrew Wyeth foresaw at the Kuerner Farm have been born out in Kuerner’s work, as he tirelessly returns to the farm as a subject, doing the difficult work of seeing the place anew with every painting,” said Amanda Burdan, the senior curator at the Brandywine and curator of the exhibition. “As this exhibition will reveal, Kuerner has carried on the creative legacy of the Farm, not only through his own paintings, but also through the inspiration of other artists, making it a continued site of artistic intervention still to this day.”
In addition to seasonal tours of the property, the Brandywine’s ongoing interpretation of the site includes a variety of public programs offered at the farm throughout the year, including plein air painting and photography events, along with eight-week-long art classes taught by Kuerner.
“The Kuerner property holds a wonderful history and a bright future with many artistic discoveries still to be made,” said Kuerner. "The farm witnessed so much over the course of its existence and continues to sustain those who see history and art as intertwined, much as the lives of the Kuerners and the Wyeths on this land. It is a landmark for both land conservation and art. I know my father would be thrilled by how the Farm still thrives as a part of the Brandywine Museum of Art and what the future holds.
Karl J. Kuerner: The Continuity of Creativity will be on view in the Brandywine’s second floor Strawbridge Family Gallery from Jan. 27 to May 19. Accompanying the exhibition, a fully illustrated publication includes an essay by Burdan and an artist statement by Kuerner.
About the Brandywine Museum of Art
The Brandywine Museum of Art features an outstanding collection of American art housed in a 19th-century Mill building with a dramatic steel and glass addition overlooking the banks of the Brandywine River. The museum is located on Route 1 in Chadds Ford. Current admission rates and hours of operation can be found at www.brandywine.org/hours. Guided tours of the Andrew Wyeth Studio, N.C. Wyeth House & Studio, and the Kuerner Farm—all National Historic Landmarks—are available seasonally (for an additional fee). Advance reservations are recommended. For more information, call 610-388-2700 or visit brandywine.org/museum. The museum is one of the two programs of the Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art.