Thursday, 5 December 2013

Christina's World, Andrew Wyeth, 1948,  tempera on gesso

Greatly enjoyed Palin on Wyeth, a Culture Show documentary about the American artist Andrew Wyeth, his idyllic childhood - his father was a commercial artist who made a fortune illustrating children's classics like Treasure Island - his rediscovery of egg tempera, a medium which had barely been used since the 16th century- and his lifelong connection with the landscapes and neighbours he painted at Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania and Cushing, Maine, home of the Olson farmhouse which literally was Christina's World. When I first encountered this painting, I assumed that the crippled Christina was a young girl but in fact, she's a middleaged woman in her 50s. There is something deeply disturbing in this painting, that diagonal between the house and the woman that almost seems to be her hauling her back from where she has crawled to the boundaries of her world. Well worth seeing and Michael Palin for once not too irritating.

6 comments:

Sue said...

I wish I had seen this was on.His paintings are so atmospheric.Always remind me a bit of that Sam Shepherd Days of Heaven film.

Sue said...

Good heavens I can't believe the amount of times I have seen this painting in books and never once realised that Christina was crippled. I suppose it's because I don't like the painting very much so I've never studied it properly. I think I like my landscapes to be unpeopled.

mary said...

You haven't missed it, Sue. It's on soon, if you look out for it - but don't know date for it.

Once you realise, it makes you look at the painting in a completely different way, doesn't it, Sue.

Mac n' Janet said...

Have always enjoyed Andrew Wyeth's work and the painting of Christina particularly.

Nick said...

Mary, I live just a few miles from the Olsen homestead in Cushing, Maine. The house is open as a museum during the summer. Andrew Wyeth's grave is located in a small cemetary just across the road. The Olsen house is part of the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine. It is a small jewel of a museum with many paintings by three generations of Wyeths...N.C., Andrew, and Jamie. If you ever visit the coast of Maine, you should be sure to tour the Farnsworth. By the way, when I first saw "Christina's World", I, too, thought Christina was a young woman. There is a great book detailing the painting (called "Christina's World") that was published during the 1980s. I gave a copy of it to my mother (also Christina).

mary said...

It showed the museum and cemetery on the programme, Nick - and set me off longing to visit. What a lovely part of the world you live in. I've only been to Maine once, sadly accompanied by friends who had no interest at all in making artistic pilgrimages.