New Colby Museum Exhibit Reveals Never-Before-Seen Works by Andrew Wyeth
Life and death shows the artist grappling with his own mortality
A new exhibit in Waterville, Maine, at the Colby College Museum of Art, Andrew Wyeth: Life and Deathoffers the first public presentation of a recently rediscovered series of drawings in which artist Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009) imagines his own funeral.
Created in the early 1990s, the designs, now known collectively as The Funeral Group, depict Wyeth’s friends, neighbors and wife, Betsy, surrounding a coffin at the foot of Kuerner’s Hill in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, a site with which the artist has long been associated. death. Some of the drawings offer a view inside the coffin, revealing a rare self-portrait.
“Conceived before the current moment, this exhibition offers viewers a powerful resource for creating meaning in a time that continues to test our resilience and asks each of us to recognize human interdependence and vulnerability,” said Jacqueline Terrassa. , director Carolyn Muzzy of the Colby. Museum.
The drawings in the exhibition represent a selection of around fifty works identified as part of the funerary group. In 2018, Wyeth’s son, artist Jamie Wyeth, received just over twenty drawings, which had been kept privately at the home of his father’s friends George and Helen Sipala in Chadds Ford. As of 2020, sketches of additional burial scenes have been located in the collection of the Wyeth Foundation for American Art.
Andrew Wyeth: Life and Death connects these sketches to Wyeth’s decades-long engagement with death as an artistic subject and places him in a rare conversation with artists who have also used self-portraiture to confront their mortality.
“Because Andrew Wyeth’s work has long been considered intensely personal and mysterious, it has often been situated outside of American art history since the 1960s,” said art teacher Tanya Sheehan. William R. Kenan Jr. at Colby College and curator of the exhibit.
“This exhibition shows that Wyeth was engaged in existential questions that have long preoccupied conceptual, performance and activist artists.”
Wyeth’s contemporaries Andy Warhol, George Tooker and Duane Michals, as well as next-generation artists David Wojnarowicz, Janaina Tschäpe and Mario Moore, are featured in the exhibition. Many of their works highlight the stark reality that death is always closer to some Americans than others, due to their economic status, sexuality, and racial or ethnic identity.
Andrew Wyeth: Life and Death is on view through October 16, 2022. Support for the exhibition is provided by the Wyeth Foundation for American Art.