"To me, a portrait is not so much the actual painting, but just spending the time with the person, traveling with him, watching him eat, watching him sleep. When I work on a portrait, it's really osmosis. I try to become the person I'm painting. A successful portrait isn't about the sitter's physical characteristics-his nose, eyeballs and whatnot-but more the mood and the overall effect. I try not to impose anything of mine on him. I try to get to the point where if the sitter painted, he'd paint a portrait just the way I'm doing it."
One Nation: Patriots and Pirates Portrayed by N.C. Wyeth and James Wyeth
(N. C. Wyeth, Jamie Wyeth (Illustrator), Tom Brokaw, David Michaelis, William Smith)
From approximately 1912-1945, when the renowned illustrator N.C. Wyeth was most active, the country was fighting under the American flag, the symbol of freedom. Patriotism was every citizen's duty, and N.C. Wyeth's work epitomized all that was American. By the time Jamie Wyeth came of age, the country was once again at war, but to some "patriotism" no longer meant marching off to battle but marching in protest. The contrast between these two eras comes alive in vibrant art of two generations of Wyeths, augmented by provocative essays on the subject by Brokaw, Michaelis, and Smith.
Wondrous Strange : The Wyeth Tradition
(N.C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth, James Wyeth, Delaware Art Museum)
Demonic eyes shining out of a shadowy tree. A blind man staggering through a moonlit landscape. Disembodied, dark hands rising out of snow. A feral dog with one blue eye. Ambiguous shadows harboring human shapes. These are but a few of the eerie images in this mesmerizing, wondrous book. There are four artists represented here: three generations of Wyeth men--N.C., Andrew, and James--and Howard Pyle, artistically speaking the father of them all. An essay on each artist precedes a generous selection of stunning, full-size, color plates of his work; the essay on Andrew is written by his wife, Betsy. It is Betsy who originally conceived of the exhibition that led to the book. David Michaelis, author of a new biography of N.C., writes, "The intensity of her relationship with all three Wyeths makes her the true linking figure in what has too often been simplified as a male succession."
The simple chronological ordering of the book, from Pyle to his student N.C. Wyeth, to N.C.'s son Andrew, to Andrew's son James, turns out to have a peculiar power. The gaudy, tricky, glorious too-muchness of both Pyle and James make illustrational bookends around the more subtly drawn histrionics of N.C. and Andrew. It might come as a surprise to fans of Andrew's uniquely sublime naturalistic gifts that he possesses an uncanny streak of surrealism, which he couches in his otherwise orderly realism. The book as a whole should give hours and hours of pleasure to Pyle and Wyeth fans of all persuasions and generations. [Review by Peggy Moorman]