Who Is The Most Hated Artist In The World?
May 19, 2017|Diego Cera
Hidden from the outer world due to a strange disease, Andrew Wyeth's artwork shows the rural settings he perceived to be the whole world. From an early age, he showed a deep love and notorious talent for drawing. His father, a famous illustrator from the twenties, taught him everything he knew about painting. That was the only artistic education Wyeth needed to become the main representative of American realism of the twentieth century.
Loved by people, his paintings are very straight forward. Most of them portray rural landscapes that produce an indescribable peace in the spectator, only comparable to spending the day sitting on the porch of one of the farms he captured in his paintings. His work reminds us of Winslow Homer's naturalism due to his esthetic. In fact, Wyeth felt a huge admiration for Homer after studying him.
Although he's now considered to be one of the most influential artists in the United States, the critics have never treated him that well. Many agree with Henry Geldzahler —a specialist at the Metropolitan Museum of New York— when he stated that Wyeth's art was a realism that didn't portray reality. He thought these paintings, which were contemporaries to Modern movements, such as Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art, showed a severe anachronism.
Most critics were focused on Wyeth's use of iconography and themes, which, in their opinion, were illustrations that would work better in an almanac due to the strong conservatism they conveyed. Other critics were even meaner in their comments about this Pennsylvanian artist. For instance, Dave Hickey said that Wyeth painted with a palette made from “mud and baby poop”.
For Wyeth, who spent most of his time secluded in the countryside, reality wasn't linked to smog and the rush of the urban landscape. Instead, he depicted the rural scenes he saw outside his window. For example, his Christina's World is a portrayal of his everyday life. The woman in the painting is his neighbor Christina Olson, who wasn't able to walk and had to crawl over the fields to reach her home.
Probably, what really angered the critics was the absence of glamour and color ostentation in Wyeth's paintings. However, when he started experimenting with nudes and portraits of his muse, Helga Testorf, he betrayed his own reality. He soon started to portray fantasies instead of the paintings that used to depict the reality he had lived.
Many of his detractors considered him a kitsch artist. However, he portrayed everyday life with an authentic style, which made his art more accessible and appreciated by people. Even if he didn't have an academic approach to art, he proved to be a natural artist.
Translated by María Isabel Carrasco Cara Chards