Andrew Wyeth Donates Watercolor Study to High

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Andrew Wyeth Donates Watercolor Study to High
An aerial view of the complete campus. From left to right are the Memorial Arts Building, Table 1280, Anne Cox Wing, Wieland Pavilion and Stent Family Wing surrounding the new Sifly Piazza. "House III" by Roy Lichtenstein in foreground. Image Timothy Hursley, 2005.

ATLANTA, GA.- The High Museum of Art announced that it has received a gift of a watercolor by Andrew Wyeth, “Study for ‘The Quaker’” (1976), from the artist and his wife, Betsy Wyeth. The Wyeths gave the watercolor to the High in honor of the Museum’s role in organizing the exhibition “Andrew Wyeth: Memory & Magic,” which premiered in Atlanta in November 2005. The work is a study for “The Quaker,” a tempera painting featured prominently in the exhibition. The watercolor is currently on view at the High as part of the exhibition, “Graphic Expressions: American Works on Paper from the High Museum of Art.”

“It has been an honor to get to know Andrew and Betsy Wyeth over the past several years as we organized the exhibition ‘Andrew Wyeth: Memory and MNancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr. Director of the High Museum of Art. “The exhibition provided new insights inthe work of one of America’s most beloved artists, Andrew Wyeth, and highlighted his contributions to Ameriart. This gift from Andrew and Betsy is a significant addition to the High’s collection and will provide a lastingreminder of the exhibition and our relationship with the Wyeth family.”

“The Quaker” and its watercolor study depict a sparsely furnished room—the artist’s studio—with two antique coats hanging in front of a hearth. The indirect view from the window reveals a classic Wyeth landscape. In keeping with the artist’s strongest imagery, the work evokes a haunted past and elusive present—full of longing and potentiality. The historical coats, which Wyeth identifies as Quaker and “fop” costumes, at left and right, belonged to a collection of antique clothing owned by the famous Quaker artist Howard Pyle. Wyeth inherited this collection from his father, N.C. Wyeth, (who studied with Pyle) and still maintains it today. Echoing the imaginative world of Wyeth’s childhood in which he and his friends would dress up as different characters, the coats suggest the artist’s creative legacy and fascination with metaphoric storytelling.

“Dating from what Wyeth has described as his most prolific period, and encompassing past and present influences and obsessions, ‘Study for “The Quaker”’ is a highly resonant addition to the High’s collection of American watercolors,” said Sylvia Yount, Margaret and Terry Stent Curator of American Art. “A generous gift from the artist and his wife, this is the only Wyeth in our collection and a wonderful way to commemorate this momentous exhibition.”

“Andrew Wyeth: Memory & Magic,” currently on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art through July 16, 2006, features approximately 100 tempera paintings, watercolors and drawings from the 1930s to the present. The everyday domestic, natural and architectural objects depicted in these works illuminate core themes in Wyeth’s art and reveal the artist’s struggle with issues of memory, temporality, embodiment and the metaphysical. Exhibition curator Anne Classen Knutson worked closely with Andrew and Betsy Wyeth to organize the retrospective on behalf of the High Museum of Art and Philadelphia. The exhibition was on view in Atlanta from November 12, 2005 through February 26, 2006, where it premiered in conjunction with the opening of the High’s expanded campus designed by Renzo Piano.

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