Wyeth Looks South

Wyeth Looks South

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Wyeth Looks South

Acrylic on canvas, 24” x 20”
Private collection

Born in 1917, the American artist Andrew Wyeth is often labeled a “realist,” but the elements of emotion and imagination play a part in his work just as large as his painstaking technique and monotone color. Wyeth Looks South is the fourth in a series of Depot paintings honoring the work of four master artists.

Andrew Wyeth’s paintings often include objects or empty landscapes which suggest the presence of someone not seen in the work. A coat hanging on a hook becomes a portrait of its owner. An empty room, with lace curtains and a sea shell perfectly placed on a dresser, suggests his wife. In this painting, the landscape surrounding the Depot is a stage for the artist himself. It is through Wyeth’s eyes that we view the distant horizon.

The title of the painting has a double meaning. The vantage of the viewer does indeed face south, but the title also alludes to the geographical location of the artist, for Wyeth paints exclusively in the North, around his two homes in Pennsylvania and Maine. In this painting I have portrayed the Depot as I imagine Wyeth might, if he were to turn his vision “South.”

Lastly, much of Wyeth’s art alludes to mortality and the final journey of death. In doing this, Wyeth sometimes paints a door leading into the darkness, or a window opening into the distant sky beyond. I have echoed Wyeth’s “journey” paintings in the lines of this work: the roofline recedes into the wide open sky, and the train tracks disappear into the horizon. The grass in the foreground is trodden, suggesting the path taken by the artist himself.

The adventure into the unknown is the final sojourn made in the artist’s imagination.

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