While I was in Boston, I especially wanted to see the Jamie Wyeth exhibit at the MFA. I was only slightly familiar with his work, and this exhibit, which covers six decades of work, was an excellent primer course.
I thought the entire exhibit was very well done. It started with his childhood, including some drawings that his mother saved. At age 5 while I was scribbling things that even my mother couldn’t decipher, he was drawing things that actually resembled animals and people. Clearly, he was talented from a young age, but he was also born into an artistic family that nurtured that talent. He stopped his studies at 11 to learn under the tutelage of his aunt Carolyn.
He eventually ended up in New York at The Factory with Andy Warhol, and they did an exchange of portraits. I love the detail in Wyeth’s ones of Andy. The sketches and drawings of the preparation for the portrait were also pretty impressive.
There were some other great portraits in the exhibit as well, including one of JFK that his family commissioned after his death. For that one, Wyeth had the remaining Kennedy brothers sit for some sketches, so he could capture their postures and expressions. Apparently Jackie liked the portrait but Robert Kennedy felt it was a little too realistic.
Besides the human portraits, there were also plenty of animals, as well as some gorgeous landscapes. Wyeth spent lots of time on remote islands in Maine, and plenty of the exhibit included works done there.
He also spends part of the year in the Brandywine River Valley. There is such a huge contrast between the look and tone of the Maine works and this one below.
There were plenty of other works on display (around 100, I believe) across a wide variety of subjects and mediums, all of which demonstrated that Jamie Wyeth truly is an amazingly talented artist. I liked one quote of his that shows that it’s not all about talent, “I’m not inspired every day I go to the studio, but you’ve got to push yourself. Do it every day and once in a while things will really click. That’s the biggest high you can imagine.”
Maybe there is hope for the rest of us.
More information on the Wyeth exhibit, which runs until December 28th, can be found here.