The Wyeths: Three Generations; Works from the Bank of America Collection
Andrew Wyeth, On the Edge, 2001, egg tempera on panel. Bank of America Collection. © 2023 Andrew Wyeth / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

The Wyeths: Three Generations; Works from the Bank of America Collection

Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture, Spokane, WA - To Aug 20

by Matthew Kangas

By 1973, Andrew Wyeth was called “the most popular painter in America.” He was 56 at the time and went on to even greater popularity and acclaim – from everyone but the critics, who frequently derided his “reactionary” style compared to the dominant modernist abstraction of the era and called his works “lifeless,” “calculated … superficial … [and] vacuous.” With the generous loan show from the Bank of America Collection, visitors to Spokane this summer can judge for themselves not only Wyeth’s appeal but also that of his father, N.C., his sister Henriette, and his son Jamie, all of whom became noted artists in their own right. Together, they were America’s leading art royalty.

Realism and a concocted patriotic nostalgia were something the entire Wyeth family shared. The paterfamilias, Newell Convers Wyeth (1882-1945), was the leading American book illustrator of the period. Plenty of his illustrations are on view, along with beautiful Maine and Pennsylvania landscapes. Henriette (1907-1997), a decade older than Andrew, was the only sibling who escaped the family, moving to a ranch in New Mexico. She was also the only one to attend art school (Boston Museum School and Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts) and painted First Lady Pat Nixon’s official portrait.

N.C.’s grandson Jamie, now 76, survived what some called a family curse (depression, suicides, car accidents) to have his first show at age 20, just as his father, Andrew, had debuted at age 19. Both flourished with Americana landscapes and, in Jamie’s case, portraits of pigs and bulls that were admired by his good friend Andy Warhol.

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