Category Archives: NC Wyeth

A Swashbuckling Sunday – by Chelsea

Little Girl in Hat
Photo by Carlos Alejandro

Ahoy there, matey! Are ye ready to set sail on an amazing adventure for all ages? Because Pirate Day is returning to the museum this November! Pirate Day is part of PNC Arts Alive’s First Sundays for Families and has been an annual event at the museum for the last three years.

BRM_Pirate Day_E credit Carlos Alejandro
Photo by Carlos Alejandro
Photo by Carlos Alejandro
Photo by Carlos Alejandro

It’s a free day at the museum for families starting at 10 a.m. The event celebrates N. C. Wyeth’s Treasure Island illustrations, which launched his career as an illustrator and artist and can be found on view at the museum. The morning is filled with pirate-themed crafts and hunting for treasure all around the museum. You can participate in a rope-tying demonstration led by Pirates of the Northern Star and hear daring tales of journeys at sea presented by Hedgerow Theater.

BRM_Pirate Day_C credit Carlos Alejandro
Photo by Carlos Alejandro
BRM_Pirate Day_D credit Carlos Alejandro
Photo by Carlos Alejandro

You might even be able to get your picture taken with a real pirate, or come dressed up as a buccaneer yourself. So come get hooked on these fantastic arrrrt activities taking place in museum lobbies and find gold in N. C. Wyeth’s Treasure Island illustrations on Sunday November 2nd.

BRM_Pirate Day_F credit Carlos Alejandro
Photo by Carlos Alejandro
BRM_Pirate Day_G credit Carlos Alejandro
Photo by Carlos Alejandro

PNC Arts Alive is a multi-year initiative of the PNC Foundation, which receives its principal funding from The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. The goals of PNC Arts Alive is to help area residents gain access to the arts and help arts organizations expand and engage audiences.

For more information visit www.pncartsalive.com.

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Talking about walking with Matthew Jensen – by Sarah

Jensen Portrait Color
Artist Matthew Jensen

I had the pleasure of talking with Matthew Jensen, the artist currently working with the Brandywine River Museum of Art, about his upcoming exhibition, Alongside Tall Grasses.  When I introduced myself to Matthew Jensen, I was thrilled to hear that he shared my interest in political science as well as art. This led us to talk about the politics of walking and his process behind walking. At the base of his process is his love of walking and being outdoors. As opposed to following a rubric of what a photograph is supposed to look like, he’d rather follow his process that he developed based on what he loves. He loved walking when he was younger, in an innocent way. Though his love for walking is still present, it is more metaphorical now.

Matthew Jensen, from "Delawalking"
Matthew Jensen, from “Delawareness//Delawalking”

Matthew Jensen creates walks that avoid pristine pastures of land, and that explore lived-in places. He described his commitment to the landscape, but also recognized the conceptual components of his landscape photography.   The walks he’s created for the exhibition keep the tributaries of the Brandywine as their focus, moving the viewer through the landscape and calling attention to the river, and then the town around the Brandywine. This emphasizes the idea of the lure of the local, and the inspiration the Brandywine has had for artists.

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Installation View of “Alongside Tall Grasses”
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Installation View of “Alongside Tall Grasses”

 

 

 

 

 

 

We then discussed the idea of found objects in his work. This includes the idea of what is found and how the objects act in the work. Jensen’s found objects are usually in plain sight and are presented as artifacts. Here in the Brandywine region there is so much history and preservation, which is different from other places he’s worked, like Manhattan. There’s a feeling of impossibility to the found objects Jensen uses in the final work of art. This is in contrast to the artist Marcel Duchamp’s use of readymades, which were found objects presented as works of art.

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“July, Kuerner Farm” from “Alongside Tall Grasses”
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From “31 Winter Walks”
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From “Park Artifacts, The Bronx”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The history of the Wyeth family was very present in the area. The Wyeths often painted little things that someone walking would notice, something so simple, it strikes you. This simplicity attracts Matthew Jensen and is a quality that appeals to him in a photograph – as he described it, the less going on, the better. However, there is a lot going on for Matthew Jensen at the Brandywine. Visitors may view his exhibition from August 23rd until November 16th, and try some local walks with guidance from a map produced by the artist as part of the exhibition. Jensen himself will lead a walk on Saturday, October 11, and discuss his creative process in an artist talk on Saturday, November 8. Check the museum website for more details on these events.

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Installation view of “Alongside Tall Grasses” at the Brandywine River Museum of Art

Watching Paint Dry – by Liesl

I can distinctly remember one of the most exciting days in art class my freshman year of high school was when we sat with a printed out piece of paper with a painting we liked on it and tried to paint what we saw. I loved finding all of the little secret details and trying to capture them on my own paper. That experience pales dramatically to what I witnessed at The Brandywine River Museum of Art.

On April 25th, five art students and their instructor, Neil Carlin, came to the museum ready for an experience that would make many a painter jealous. Carlin, who was recently commissioned to do the official portrait of the Holy Family for the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, also runs a school of 35 full and part-time students in Kennett Square. His students vary in age and experience from local high school students working on drawing to older students transitioning into the arts from another career. I could see the range in ages of Carlin’s students by the five advanced students that he brought with him that day to the museum.DSC_0014

Carlin and his students set up their easels and oil paints in the Museum’s classroom and prepared to paint. Unlike my experience with the poorly printed paper, Carlin’s students did not work from a mere image. Instead, an original N.C. Wyeth panting was carefully brought in and set up on an easel before the students.

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The work, The Battle of Glens Fallsis one of my favorite N.C. paintings. Dynamic and full of energy, the painting truly evokes the imagination. It shows two men grappling on the ledge of a waterfall. A knife lies on the ground in front of them and the viewer can sense the tension as the men fight nearing closer and closer to the edge. It truly is an amazing painting to see and certainly a great one to try and paint.DSC_0017
When I entered the classroom, the small group of painters had already been working for some time. They were intently looking from their own canvas and boards to the N.C. painting located in the front of the room.  I listened to their easy, informative conversation as I sat in on their class and paid attention as they pointed out little nuances I had never noticed before. “Did you notice…?” “Can you see…?” “Observe the…” With each observation they made, I would lean forward and try to see exactly what they were noticing. For the first time I observed how much blue was in the painting, how much light and darkness played with one another and the little spot of perfect blue which looks like it is taken right from the tube and applied to the canvas in one part of the work.
As I sat observing them work, I was able to watch as figures emerged from the backgrounds of the paintings. It was an incredible thing to see. Blotches of peach suddenly became strong muscles. Spots of red became a coat. Blues become cliffs and waterfalls. I had come to the classroom with a slew of projects to work on and instead I was held captive by what I was seeing before me.

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There is something so exciting about watching artists at work. It involves the senses as you smell the oil paints, listen to the conversation, and see the work being created. For someone like me who finds painting to be a real challenge it was a treat to watch these six people in front of me make it look so effortless and fun. Whoever said something was as boring as watching paint dry never got to witness this!

“A State of Wondering” – by Liesl

On November 15th, the Brandywine River Museum had the pleasure of having Richard Meryman come to the museum for a lecture. Meryman, who had been a writer for Life magazine, among many other things, had done numerous interviews with the late Andrew Wyeth and has written books on the artist including his latest one: Andrew Wyeth: A Spoken Self- Portrait.

Andrew Wyeth holding fruit
Richard Meryman’s photo of Andrew Wyeth

For those who have not yet seen or read the book, I highly recommend it. The pages are filled with bright, beautiful pictures and the text is primarily Andrew Wyeth’s own words as recorded in over four hundred hours of conversations with Meryman. Other portions of the book are quotes from important people in Wyeth’s life including his wife, Betsy and son, Jamie.

 

Mr. & Mrs. Andrew Wyeth
Meryman’s photo of Andrew and Betsy Wyeth

Meryman was an absolute pleasure to listen to as he told his captive audience of around 170 people about Andrew Wyeth. To supplement what he was saying, audio was played of Meryman and Wyeth conversing in interviews. As your ears adjusted to the static and background noise of the tapes, you could hear Meryman and the rather high pitched Andrew talking about different aspects of his art. It was truly fascinating. My favorite part was when Andrew was describing how he would sometimes paint something then “leave it in a state of wondering and dream about it” for a while before coming back to it.

Andrew Wyeth Walking
Meryman’s photo of Andrew Wyeth

After introducing us to Andrew, Meryman then told us about Christina Olson, the woman from the world-renowned painting of Christina’s World. He showed us some objects from her home such as her makeup powder puff. Most exciting of all though was that we got to hear Christina’s recorded voice as he interviewed her.

Andrew Wyeth and Christina Olson
Richard Meryman’s photo of Christina Olson

After the lecture, Meryman went upstairs to the third floor for the book signing. I joined the back of the line and was so happy to hear everything that people were saying about the talk, Meryman’s book and even about the museum itself.

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As people patiently waited in line clutching brand new copies of his latest book from the museum store or dog-eared and well-read copies of his older books, they chatted positively and excitedly about the lecture they just heard.

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I left that day at the museum with new found knowledge on Andrew Wyeth and afascinating new book signed by Meryman. It was a great lecture and an absolute privilege to hear Richard Meryman speak and especially to hear Christina Olson and Andrew Wyeth through the crackling audio tell us more about their lives.

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First Impressions – by Liz

 I was home from college for a weekend and decided to share the Brandywine River Museum with a couple of friends who had never visited.   The Brandywine River Museum is home to American art by a number of well-known artists, some of whom lived in and around the surrounding area of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.  I drove with my friends a short way north on Route One from Longwood Gardens and Kennett Square, to the museum.  The view of the museum from Route One is one of an imposing 3-story brick building—historic looking, which makes sense since it dates back to the Civil War and was once a flour mill.   But once inside, my friends thought it looked completely different. Three floors of contemporary lobby space open up the surrounding landscape with giant, curved glass windows which overlook the river for which the museum is named—the Brandywine.  One of my friends was most interested in seeing the Wyeth art–N.C. (Newell Convers) Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth and Jamie Wyeth which is featured in separate galleries on three different floors of the museum.   Even after seeing examples of three generations of Wyeth paintings, we had differing opinions about which artist we liked best.  We checked out a small gallery of still-life paintings and then some landscape art before deciding to head outside for a bit to explore the riverbank and sat along the river, near a few bronze statues dotting the property, while we soaked in the peaceful atmosphere.

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A gorgeous view of the museum’s third floor.

Currently there are a few exhibitions that are a must see. Now until November 17th hurry in to see the Jamie Wyeth, Rockwell Kent and Monhegan exhibit. This is located on the third floor of the museum adjacent to the Andrew Wyeth Gallery and works by George A. Weymouth and Jamie Wyeth. If you plan to visit the before November 24th take advantage of our shuttle bus tours to Andrew’s personal studio and N.C’s home and studio. If you are interested in finding out more information about studio and off-site tours I have written more blogs about them in the links below! Hope to see all of you soon!

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Two of my good friends, Phoenix and Bill, exploring the museum for the first time!

 

 

Inside N.C.’s Studio – by Liz

The N.C. Wyeth House and his personal studio, which is located just a few minutes down the road from The Brandywine River Museum, is host to a variety of Wyeth family belongings and treasures.  The artist’s studio is full of props and reference materials used by N.C. to complete a tremendous number of illustrations during the course of his career.  Newell Convers Wyeth used his earnings from the Treasure Island commission to build the house in 1911 and resided in this home until his death on October 19th, 1945.  With the anniversary of his untimely death approaching one tends to question exactly what an artist’s life was like.

A human skull rests on one of the shelves in the Prop Room of N.C’s studio.
A human skull rests on one of the shelves in the Prop Room of N.C’s studio.

One aspect of the studio that I truly enjoyed was the main room that has a large window and all of N.C.’s props and painting supplies. Random paint flecks speckle the unfinished, weathered hardwood floors. Rows of books and a personal collection of National Geographic magazines (organized by year none the less) line the walls. N.C. used all of the studio’s belongings for either inspiration or for props.

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I really felt as if N.C. had just gone for a walk and that I was stepping into his studio just the way he had left it. It was amazing to be able to experience an opportunity so rare as to tour a studio of such a famous and well-known artist. If you have not experienced the N.C. Wyeth House and Studio please do so. I recommend seeing it for yourself if you want a more in depth look at his creative space. For more information about how to book your tour and shuttle to the house and studio click on The Brandywine River Museum’s link listed here: http://www.brandywinemuseum.org/ncstudio.html.

A photo I took of N.C. Wyeth’s dining room. Portraits of the family’s ancestors line the walls and greet you as you enter.
A photo I took of N.C. Wyeth’s dining room. Portraits of the family’s ancestors line the walls and greet you as you enter.

A Window into Andrew Wyeth’s World

 A recurring pattern you might see in Andrew Wyeth’s temperas and watercolors is his use of light from windows and window structures. Whether it is a literal depiction of a window or light pouring over a figure’s face or body, Andrew successfully used windows in his paintings to create light that no other artist in the 20th century was truly able to capture.

A detail of "Big Room," 1988 where windows play a pivotal role in the watercolor’s overall aesthetic.
A detail of “Big Room,” 1988 where windows play a pivotal role in the watercolor’s overall aesthetic. 
The Brandywine River Museum’s third floor lobby in the early morning
The Brandywine River Museum’s third floor lobby in the early morning

The Brandywine River Museum is also filled with light and windows. The gallery where Andrew’s works are displayed is adjacent to the third floor lobby which has floor to ceiling windows so that natural light can filter through the museum; just the way Andrew would have wanted it.

Below is a detail from the painting, Tree House Study, 1982 depicting the front of the Kuerners’ farmhouse, which is located a little more than a mile from the Brandywine River Museum. Tours are available of Kuerner Farm, and for more information take a look at my previous blog entry: https://brandywineinterns.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/walking-in-andrews-footsteps-by-liz/.

Although Wyeth did not depict light pouring inside from these windows, in this painting we see the farmhouse’s exterior windows being used to mark the shadows from a huge evergreen tree.  One can only imagine the effect of bright sun and deep shade on the interior sides of these windows. I was actually able to take a real life photo of the window that is located on the front porch of the Kuerner farmhouse.  It is also interesting to note that in different compositions of the same structure, Andrew Wyeth would move the farmhouse windows, eliminate them, or focus on them, depending on the particular composition. In Tree House Study, is the focus on the windows, the shadows from the tree, or the farmhouse itself?

Here is a comparison of the porch window, at the bottom left of Andrew’s watercolor, "Tree House" Study, 1982 (on  the left) and my photo of the same porch window in real life (to the right).
Here is a comparison of the porch window, at the bottom left of Andrew’s watercolor, “Tree House” Study, 1982 (on the left) and my photo of the same porch window in real life (to the right).

Andrew’s use of light is so realistic and plays such a significant role in all of his paintings. The fact that he used windows in a number of the current works on display in the Andrew Wyeth Gallery, goes to show how essential this motif was for the artist. Whether he was depicting his father’s (N.C Wyeth) studio, his own studio, or the Kuerner farm, windows and, more importantly, the natural light that came in through the windows greatly influenced many of his paintings.