Dan’s Papers Cover Artist Jamie Wyeth

Even if this week’s cover image isn’t exactly familiar, the artist’s name is bound to ring a bell. Jamie Wyeth’s family, including his father, Andrew, and grandfather, N.C., is a well- respected group of artists, often associated with iconic American images, like the young girl crawling in an open field by Andrew Wyeth. “Like father like son,” when considering  that Andrew and Jamie have an extraordinary penchant for light and atmosphere. Their paintings also evoking a potent emotional feeling. Our cover proves the point: the ambience is overwhelming, a sense of danger pervading the space. The emotional connection to the birds is powerful as well.

Like his father, Jamie grew up in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, a product of similar influences, as he shows the same drawing talent as his dad. He attended public school for six years and then was home-schooled for the rest of his education. His art training was particularly wide-ranging: studying with his aunt, Carolyn Wyeth, reading art books, meeting collectors and art historians. Wyeth’s close relationship with his father was no doubt important among his influences, and as a teenager, he painted with him. As Jamie himself said, “Quite simply, Andrew Wyeth is my closest friend and the painter whose work I most admire.”

Yet there is nothing “simple” about Jamie’s technique and style. His diverse use of media, including etching, drawing, watercolor, egg tempura and lithography, is extensive, as is his employment of color. Some say his travel experiences, particularly when he studied Flemish and Dutch artists abroad, made him a more informed individual.

Jamie’s subjects are also varied and not “simple” or superficial. His portraits feature people like his father, celebrities (such as Andy Warhol and Rudolf Nureyev) and citizens living near his home. His landscapes celebrating Monhegan, Maine, and animal paintings add to his body of work.

Comparing some of these pieces contributes to an understanding of Wyeth’s art. Many paintings (“Dog Menaced by Vegetable”) include both an animal and the landscape, giving a more complete sense of context. Often people are juxtaposed against the environment (“Battleship”), evoking a narrative as we wonder who the young boys are and what they are thinking.

“Skittish Dog” is another work where the viewer can imagine a story. Here, a dog is looking out over a vista, his thoughts a million miles away. In “Route 131, The Apple House,” we are the unseen subject looking at a building as we speed by in a car. But our thoughts are a million miles away as well.

There are compositional similarities in these works, too: first, background/foreground juxtapositions when the subjects are dogs or two boys. Such an element is also present in “Monhegan’s Schoolteacher,” although a chair at a table shares the foreground position. Horizontal planes exist as another striking composition; often, the plane is in the form of trees. Again, this extension of the picture plane allows viewers to imagine what is going on beyond what they can see.

To see Jamie Wyeth’s work contact the Peter Marcelle Gallery in Bridgehampton at
631-338-2723.

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