Andrew Wyeth, 1917 – 2009

Today Christina’s World is one of the two or three most familiar American paintings of the 20th century. Only Grant Wood, in American Gothic, and Edward Hopper, in one or two canvases such as House by the Railroad or Nighthawks, have created works of comparable stature. (Henry Adams, Smithsonian Magazine, June 2006)

I was especially saddened to hear of the death of Andrew Wyeth this morning. I first encountered his work at the age of 15 on a field trip to New York City sponsored by my high school art club. I often tell my students the story of standing in front of Christina’s World for the first time, mesmerized by the image of Wyeth’s polio-stricken neighbor Christina Olsen crawling in an open field with the Olsen farmhouse in the background. I also vividly remember seeing another Wyeth painting, Wind from the Sea, that day. It was as though I was actually standing in the second story room in the Olsen House, where the painting was done, feeling the breeze and smelling the sea air coming through the window. I often credit that experience with my decision to pursue Art as a career.

Note: I removed an earlier video of Wyeth because it was no longer available on the Web and added the excerpt from a different interview above on November 27, 2009.

[watch NBC Interview with the artist]