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Discussing a kinship with art

Illustrated lecture about three generations of the Wyeth family

Illustrated lecture about three generations of the Wyeth family

January 18, 2007|by JULIE E. GREENE

Many well-known American artists made their name in New York City.

Andrew Wyeth, considered by many people to be the greatest living American artist, made his name in his hometown of Chadds Ford, Pa.

Wyeth's images of snowy scenes and portraits of pensive people are more accessible to most people than abstract or surrealist art, says Jim Curtis, a retired Russian literature professor.

However, Wyeth himself has never been very accessible.

Curtis will talk about Wyeth's art and reclusiveness during a Sunday afternoon illustrated lecture, "The Art of the Wyeth Family," at Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in Hagerstown's City Park.

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Andrew Wyeth, who paints in a realistic style, is from the second generation of three generations of well-known American artists.

The Wyeth family, like the Peales, are a well-known mid-Atlantic family of artists with a major national reputation, says Ann Prentice Wagner, the museum's curator. The Peales were 18th and 19th century artists whose works included portraits and still lifes.

Curtis also will talk about Andrew Wyeth's son and his father, Newell Convers "N.C." Wyeth.

N.C. Wyeth illustrated many well-known works of literature published in the Scribner Illustrated Classics Series, "Treasure Island" and "The Last of the Mohicans" among them. He also did work for the Saturday Evening Post.

Jamie Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth's son, also is a realistic painter and a significant painter known for paintings of livestock, including the popular "Portrait of Pig" at the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford.

Curtis became fascinated with the Wyeth family after moving in 2000 to Chadds Ford, west of Philadelphia, where Andrew and Jamie Wyeth live.

Curtis had retired from teaching Russian and Russian literature at University of Missouri-Columbia and saw an exhibit of Andrew Wyeth's work at the Brandywine River Museum.

Realizing he lived just five miles from this famed artist, Curtis began researching the family and began giving presentations about the Wyeth family to retirement homes, churches and other groups in the region.

Curtis has never met any of the Wyeth family.

"He likes to paint rooms in houses that show that people have lived there and maybe still do live there, but you can't see them so we guess, we infer what these people are like," Curtis says.

One of Andrew Wyeth's collections - the Helga pictures - was even a mystery to Wyeth's family because he didn't disclose that he had been creating paintings of his neighbor - including nudes - until after painting her for 15 years.




If you go...



WHAT: "The Art of the Wyeth Family," an illustrated lecture by Jim Curtis

WHEN: 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 21

WHERE: Bowman Concert Gallery, Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, City Park, Hagerstown

COST: Free

MORE: A reception will follow to talk with the speaker and there will be light refreshments. For more information, call 301-739-5727 or go to WCMFA.org.

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