We may all have a case of cabin fever but there is no scarcity of good books, videos, films, and music to keep us occupied while we wait for Covid-19 to be vanquished. On Sunday night M and I watched a beautifully made PBS documentary American Masters:Wyeth, chronicling the life and work of Andrew Wyeth the great American realist painter–who lived most of his life, by choice, in self-isolation.
While taking an art history class in the 1950s, I became aware of Mr. Wyeth’s work but didn’t understand how to place it in the continuum of American art. Neither did the arts experts; realistic painting seemed old fashioned to them. But, in 1948, Alfred Barr, the founding director of the Museum of Modern Art, purchased what has become Wyeth’s most famous painting, Christina’s World, for $1800 and that act helped change the art world’s perception of what “might” be modern. At the time abstract expressionism (Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Clifford Still and others) was the big thing in modern art and realism was out of favor and assigned to a place in art history.