His most familiar painting, Christina's World, painted in 1948, shows his neighbor, Christina Olson, and her house in Cushing, Maine. Olson had invited Wyeth to use an upstairs room as a studio, which he did for thirty years. The title is a reference to Olson's circumscribed world: she was a victim of poliomyelitis with limited mobility.
Wyeth works mainly in egg tempera (the medium used in Christina's World) and watercolor.
Wyeth rose to fame with his realistic paintings during the very heyday of Abstract Expressionism. By the 1960s he was extraordinarily successful, appeared on the cover of Time Magazine, and Life called him "America's pre-imminent artist." He has drawn his share of sniping; a sour piece in the Colorado Springs Independent talks of the Wyeth family's work "leaden schlock," and reluctantly acknowledging Andrew Wyeth as a "fine artist" only to complain that he "camouflages the emptiness of his work with an understated virtuosity."
Notes and references
- The Homeschooling of Andrew Wyeth, A Conversation with the Artist, Gifted Children Monthly, May 1986, Vol 7 No. 5.
- Christina's World, online image at Museum of Modern Art website; Christina's World, image at John Singer Sargent Virtual Gallery
- Christina's World - The House Andrew Wyeth Painted.
- Andrew Wyeth and Bob Timberlake, Fayetteville Museum of Art.
- An Impotent Dynasty: Wyeth family's leaden schlock on display at the Fine Arts Center; John Hazlehurst, Colorado Springs Independent, 2002