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Unknown Terrain: The Landscapes of Andrew Wyeth

Venn, Beth and Weinberg, Adam D.

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ISBN 10: 0810968274 / ISBN 13: 9780810968271
Published by Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, 1998
Condition: Very Good Hardcover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Unknown Terrain: The Landscapes of Andrew ...

Publisher: Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY

Publication Date: 1998

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Very Good

Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good

Signed: Personal Inscription

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


Andrew Wyeth is considered America's most popular living painter, and his work is acclaimed by art lovers around the world. This fully illustrated volume accompanies the first major exhibition to focus exclusively on Wyeth's exquisite landscape paintings, on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, from May 28 to August 30,1998. Organized by Adam D. Weinberg and Beth Venn, Permanent Collection curators at the Museum, both book and exhibition span Wyeth's entire career, from his formative years in the late 1930s to the present.Andrew Wyeth, born in 1917, became associated with the group of artists known as the American Scene painters, among them Thomas Hart Benton, Grant Wood, Reginald Marsh, and Edward Hopper. Rejecting the extremes of European modernism, and propelled by a nationwide impulse to create a modern idiom that expressed the uniqueness of contemporary American life, these artists worked in a variety of realist modes, largely inspired by pre-20th-century painting.Based on experience and close observation of his immediate environment, Wyeth began making paintings inspired by the landscape, architecture, and people in two locales: Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and Cushing, Maine. He developed a highly subjective art that still represents a distinctly American voice.Focusing on Wyeth as a painter rather than as a storyteller, Unknown Terrain: The Landscapes of Andrew Wyeth reveals the artist's love of painting as process and material, underscores his technical prowess, and examines the abstract modernist underpinnings of his landscape compositions. In the process of selecting the more than 125 works -- in watercolor, tempera, drybrush, and oil -- allbeautifully reproduced in color, Weinberg and Venn have uncovered a large number of previously unknown watercolors. These fluid, expressionistic works perfectly capture the intensity and emotionalism of Wyeth's painting over the last 60 years.Despite Wyeth's enormous appeal, there has been little critical or art historical consideration of his career during the past quarter century. Now, this book brings together essays by a new generation of curators who investigate Wyeth's work both within the tradition of landscape painting and from a broader art historical perspective. They also explore Wyeth's career as a whole, his relationship to other abstract and realist painters, discuss why he continues to be of great interest today, and how he fits into the greater context of 20th-century art.


Unknown Terrain: The Landscapes of Andrew Wyeth makes an irresistible case for ignoring both Wyeth's sentimental champions and his cynical detractors. It's easy to understand either pole of opinion about this very American painter, but harder to get to the essence of what makes him excite such vehemence. In the end, it may simply be that he is very, very good, and like all good painters, a little too complicated for most critics.

For one thing, while Wyeth does have a special sensitivity for suggestive narrative elements, he is also an abstract painter, with a powerful sense of gesture, stroke, and pattern. Some of his watercolors are as thrusting and liquid as Jackson Pollock's drips, and almost as nonobjective. Other compositions can be as fixed as Christina's World, the huge 1948 painting for which he is perhaps best known, but within the strictly ordered confines of tempera, a painstaking medium, he still handles the brush with bravura. The authors of Unknown Terrain make an attempt to elucidate Wyeth's relationship to this century, and they succeed admirably--with the help of nearly 200 reproductions.

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