Andrew Wyeth: Overrated or underrated?♦
Re “The Overrated Andrew Wyeth,” by Anne R. Fabbri—
I understand that everyone is entitled to her own opinion, and in a way it’s refreshing to hear a harsh critic on art. But I must say that was the most elitist writing on art I have ever read. Why didn’t Anne Fabbri just come out and say, "If you are Middle America white trash with no culture, you`ll like this guy"?
Wyeth’s work is not what I prefer, but he has many devoted fans, and I respect that, because there is this thing that some people with real emotions and a heart call personal taste.
Then again, why bother telling Anne Fabbri this? She has credentials; I’m just a painter. I hope next time she sees a show, her mood won’t be ruined by menopausal hot flashes. Maybe next time you’ll let her review a Serrano show, and she can get giddy about that and go in depth about the deep hidden meanings, while all the Wyeth fans attend Bush rallies.....
Man, I’m as cynical as she is now.
April 3, 2006
Editor’s comment: The purpose of criticism, ideally, is to provide insight. I found Fabbri’s insights useful. If you did not, you are free to reject them. How have you or anyone else been injured by exposure to what is, after all, just one critic’s impressions? What use is a critic if she simply reflects everyone else’s opinions?
The editor’s comment (above) is perfect. I was delighted to see Anne Fabbri’s critique of Wyeth and even more delighted to see it defended. The Wyeth paintings are overly illustrative and lacking vitality. Ms. Fabbri reminds us what to look for, or better what to feel, in a painting.
April 7, 2006
...Fabbri didn’t go far enough
Anne R. Fabbris Andrew Wyeth review was a wonderfully cantankerous blast to the pretensions of mediocrity. Her argument could be made more trenchant by describing exactly why Wyeth’s work is so static and un-compelling—the prescribed brushwork, the "earthy" palette, the uninspired compositions, etc.
Fabbri has a righteous chip on her shoulder, but unfortunately she is preaching blasphemy to the converted. Adding insult (Wyeth lovers are afraid of being "hoodwinked") to artspeak injury ("All the air is sucked out of a Wyeth painting") is not going to accomplish much apart from providing solace to those of us who think we know better. But thanks for being the one to say "Wyeth has no clothes."
Gross McCleaf Gallery
April 4, 2006
April 3, 2006
Many years ago I was a "Friend" of the Art Museum and was therefore privileged to attend the annual black-tie dinner after which the Museum would show off its latest purchases.
One year I asked why the Museum didn’t have any Wyeths. Anne d’Harnoncourt was then responsible for the Museum’s "modern" or "contemporary" art. She replied, rather haughtily, that Wyeth did not represent current art. I said that he deserved to be in the Museum’s collection because he was both "contemporary" and "local." She indicated that neither was a reason to acquire him.
I suppose it’s a matter of tempori parendum, as we used to say in the old country.
April 4, 2006
I’ve been following the Wyeth debate with some interest. I am curious as to Ms. Fabbri’s age. If she’s a younger person, then she proves my point that Wyeth improves with the age of the viewer. As I grow older, I have less and less patience for "flash" and "technique." Maybe this is why most non-figurative art gives me a case of the gripes--it’s all technique attached to a leap of the faith the artists "means something" by it and is not simply putting you on. I’m at a point in life at which I prefer three good Zen death poems to the whole of Pound’s Cantos--critical commentary included.
I’d just like to add for the record that I’m not a Wyeth, I don’t own a Wyeth, and it’s fine with me if you don’t like Wyeth. I’m not fond of Picasso myself.
April 10, 2006
Although I enjoyed Andrew Margavite’s supposition of my youth (above), I am afraid I must disillusion him by acknowledging the fact that I have been professionally involved with the visual arts for a number of decades. Although I enjoyed looking at Andrew Wyeth’s work during my adolescence, I believe the recognition factor had a great deal to do with it. I also liked Sigmond Romberg’s operettas and Robert Louis Stevenson’s "A Child’s Garden of Verses." Gradually I learned...I learned to immerse myself in Bach’s "Brandenberg Concerti," e.e. cummings’ poetry and the non-figurative art of the twentieth century. Unfortunately, life is not revealed through one dimension only.
This is not a blanket condemnation of figurative art. I recently flew to Amsterdam to immerse myself in the glorious juxtaposition of paintings by Caravaggio and Rembrandt. They captured the vitality of life in every aspect of their work. If only Andrew Wyeth could approach that life enhancing quality. I searched his retrospective exhibition in vain for some indication of it and found only a glimmer in two early portraits. Then it all died. Ignore the titles; they are irrelevant to the art. What is left?
This might be an appropriate moment for us to reread Ezra Pound’s "Cantos." He made some horrendous errors of political judgement but, even after being imprisoned in an open cage in Siena, he was not insane. He was a poet, a creator of complexities for all of us to ponder. Thank you for your inspiration to return to poetry. It might help me withstand another visit to the Wyeth exhibition and exposure to all those drab tones and dark palette.
Anne R. Fabbri
April 11, 2006
I fondly remember the great, gory brawls that sometimes occurred on the Gillette “Friday Night Fights” that I watched as a kid, so my gut reaction to Anne R. Fabbri’s debunking of Andrew Wyeth was “You go, girl!”, not because I care that much one way or the other about Wyeth but because of Ms. Fabbri’s passion. It’s refreshing to smell blood once in a while at this oh-so-well-behaved website. I also like the vivid writing Fabbri marshals to describe the works that she does admire.
However, Ms. Fabbri’s condescending ad homines (et feminae) tone is unfortunate; I wish there had been more invigoratingly vitriolic responses like Jayne Surrena’s. Why does Marguerite Perrone have to apologize for liking Wyeth? And – especially – why hasn’t anybody stood up for Hallmark cards and soap operas and for the people who like them. I have a dear friend, a classical music lover,—you’d classify her as a bona fide intellectual -- who has written greeting card jingles professionally and done it extremely well.
Look around this site and you’ll see that I have strongly-held opinions about classical music. But, in reflecting further on Fabbri’s criticism, I’ve been hard put to name any composer or genre that I dislike with the intensity with which she dislikes Wyeth. Andrew Lloyd Webber and smooth jazz, I guess. But rather than get apoplectic, I find myself just ignoring them. Which brings me to what I find the most compelling question of all about Fabbri’s polemic: why is this woman wasting so much good rhetoric on an artist she dislikes so much? Methinks the lady doth protest too much.
April 11, 2006
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