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Andrew Wyeth

(Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania 1917-2009)

A painter of landscape and figure subjects in Pennsylvania and Maine, Andrew Wyeth became one of the best-known American painters of the 20th century. His style is both realistic and abstract, and he works primarily in egg tempera and watercolor, often using the drybrush technique.

Andrew, born in 1917, is the son of Newell Convers (N.C.) and Carolyn Bockius Wyeth of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. Andrew was home-schooled because of delicate health. His art instruction came from his famous-illustrator father, who preached the tying of painting to life -- to mood and to essences -- and to capturing the subtleties of changing light and shadows.

The Wyeth household was a lively place with much intellectual and social stimulation, because of the prominence of N.C. Wyeth. Andrew's sisters Caroline and Henriette became noted artists as did his brother-in-law, Peter Hurd.

Andrew Wyeth maintained a style strongly oriented toward Realism when Abstract Expressionism was prevalent. Adhering to his own path, he was snubbed by many prominent art critics. However, his paintings have elements of abstraction in that the work derives from his strong feelings about his subjects, which often appear in unusual positions, juxtapositions, and with features highlighted for emotional effect. His work usually suggests rural, quiet isolation and somber mood and is devoid of modern-day objects such as automobiles.

In 1937, Wyeth's first one-man show of watercolors depicting scenes around Port Clyde, Maine, sold out at the Macbeth Gallery in New York. In Maine, Andrew first spent his summers in Port Clyde with his family, but after his marriage to Betsy James in 1940, he and his wife went regularly to Cushing, Maine.

Internationally recognized by the early 1940s, Andrew Wyeth has been a household name since the 1950s. In 1963, he was the subject of a Time magazine cover story, and was nominated for the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President John F. Kennedy. In 1990, Wyeth also became the first visual artist to receive the Congressional Gold Medal.

Andrew and his wife, Betsy, have two sons, Nicholas and Jamie Browning, the latter has become a prominent artist. Wyeth died in his sleep at his home in Chadds Ford on January 16th, 2009 at the age of 91.

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