The Cummer's Light Wash by Andrew Wyeth

December 28, 2012 0 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Metro Jacksonville highlights one of the modern pieces in The Cummer Museum of Art and Garden's permanent collection, Light Wash by Andrew Wyeth.

Andrew Wyeth (American, 1917 – 2009), Light Wash, 1961, watercolor on paper, 30 x 22 in., Gift of Ms. Gillian Attfield, AG.1980.6.1. Andrew Wyeth.

One of the modern pieces in The Cummer’s permanent collection is, Light Wash by Andrew Wyeth.  In Light Wash, the scene is set in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania and shows the backside of a house, with a laundry line hanging cloths out to dry.  A small dog is visible behind a straw laundry basket.  This watercolor is a typical scene for the artist not only because it depicts solitude but also because of his ability to illustrate movement. Wyeth was a visual artist whose style is characterized by precise realism, undoubtedly influenced by photography in its exactness of detail and use of unusual viewpoints. He worked predominantly in a regionalist style. In his art, Wyeth's favorite subjects were the land and people around him, both in his hometown of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and at his summer home in Cushing, Maine.

Wyeth created work in sharp contrast to abstraction, which gained currency in American art and critical thinking in the middle of the 20th century. His unique interpretation of realism produced controversy and captured the public’s attention.  Critics believed that Wyeth’s art gave realism a bad name and questioned the importance of his work. Admirers on the other hand, believed that his paintings portray beauty and contain strong emotional currents. Throughout his career Wyeth has split public opinion as vigorously as, and probably even more so than, any other American painter. Because of this controversial popularity, Wyeth came to represent middle-class values and ideals that modernism claimed to reject.

Andrew Wyeth was born July 12, 1917 in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. Son of the illustrator N.C., Andrew Wyeth learned to draw and paint from his father. He worked primarily in watercolors and egg tempera and often used shades of brown and grey. Wyeth had his first one-man exhibition at Macbeth Gallery in 1937 and he became a household name by the 1950s. In a 1965 Life Magazine article Wyeth once stated that although he was thought of as a realist, he thought of himself as an abstractionist: "My people, my objects breathe in a different way: there’s another core — an excitement that’s definitely abstract. My God, when you really begin to peer into something, a simple object, and realize the profound meaning of that thing — if you have an emotion about it, there is no end.” Wyeth was one of the best-known U.S. artists of the middle 20th century.