"A revelation. No one will ever view Andrew Wyeth's apparently tranquil works the same way again after reading this vivid and astonishing portrait of the turbulent, driven man who paints them. Richard Meryman has written a wonderful book." -- Geoffrey C. Ward At its most fundamental level, this stunning and unique biography describes a ...Read More"A revelation. No one will ever view Andrew Wyeth's apparently tranquil works the same way again after reading this vivid and astonishing portrait of the turbulent, driven man who paints them. Richard Meryman has written a wonderful book." -- Geoffrey C. Ward At its most fundamental level, this stunning and unique biography describes a distinguished painter's enterprise of transmitting emotion onto a flat surface. It explores all the factors that have combined to create Andrew Wyeth -- his childhood in a hothouse of creativity; his hypersensitivity; his formidable wife; his identification with people marginalized and misunderstood -- all which have made him an American icon. In the process, his realist works in watercolor and tempera, including the famous "Christina's World, " have gained him a special and secure niche in the history of American art. The book is a portrait of obsession -- how single-mindedness has affected Wyeth's relationships and transformed his world into a realm of secrecy and fervid imagination. Those who read this book will never look at Wyeth's work as they did before. It reveals the artist's dark depths, as well as the ruthless, angry, child/man fantasist who paints the basic brutalities of existence -- death and madness --that vibrate eerily beneath his pictures' calm surfaces. Richard Meryman's narrative is almost novelistic, with its larger-than-life characters and subplots: the tragedy of C.C. Wyeth; Betsy Wyeth's campaign for independence and individuality; the byzantine 15-year-long drama of the Helga paintings; the eccentric and creative Wyeth clan; and the idiosyncratic land and people of Maine and Pennsylvania. Based on 30 years ofresearch, frequent visits and countless conversations with the artist, his family, friends, admirers and critics, "Andrew Wyeth: A Secret Life" is the only book about the man and the artist that gets behind his carefully guarded screen, tells the full story of his life and reveals his complex personality and the motivations for his paintings.Read Less
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Publishers Weekly, 1996-10-07 "They're sticking pins in me!" Wyeth complained in 1986 after the press roasted his furtive and seminude "Helga" paintings. "I'm a has-been." Then 70, he had been an artistic icon since his 20s, and Christina's World, Wyeth's signature canvas, ranked with Whistler's portrait of his mother and Wood's American Gothic as national images. Meryman (Mank: The Wit, World, and Life of Herman Mankiewicz) bases his biography on interviews over many years with Wyeth, his family and his inner circle. Bare of printed sources and dependent on dialogue, the book strikingly evokes three generations of a talented, idiosyncratic family, its middle generation the progeny of a larger-than-life artist (N.C. Wyeth) insecure to the end about his worth. Andrew Wyeth (b. 1917) himself appears as a bundle of contradictionsæmodest and vain, outgoing and secretive, moved by anger as well as by love, a painter of pitiless pictures as well as postcard scenes. To his biographer, Wyeth's studies of rustic loneliness and decay accomplish what Edward Hopper achieved for 20th-century urban life. There are 75 b&w and 16 color photos here. Wyeth wanted a "tough book," writes Meryman, not one in which his works were "reverentially placed on the page surrounded by white borders"; he wanted "the excitement of pictures bled off the edges and carried across the gutter." The artist should be pleased with the result. Readers certainly will be. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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