Beijing – In April 2012, the YUAN Space in cooperation with Christie’s and Adelson Galleries will hold an exhibition of works by the distinguished American Realist painter Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009) in China. The exhibition will be open to the public in Beijing April 14 - May 12, 2012 at YUAN Space; in Hong Kong May 24 - 30, 2012 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center; and finally in New York at Christie’s during early September. The exhibit will include approximately forty works of various media including drawings, watercolors, works in dry brush and tempera. The prolific art critic, Li Xian Ting, who has been a major force behind China’s avant-garde movements since the late 1970s, and remains influential today as the director of Songzhuang Art Museum, will provide academic consultation to the exhibit.
The exhibit will span the breadth of Andrew Wyeth’s career and feature a wide range of subject matter including landscapes of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania and the rural coast of Maine, figural works, studies and fully executed masterworks.
Wyeth’s Influence in China
In 1980s, the works of Andrew Wyeth could already be seen in a variety of art publications in China. Wyeth’s works demonstrate the self-consciousness, calmness and solitudes of an individual mind with a stroke of stability, tranquility and desolation. The unique style and quality in his works opened a door for the Chinese artists, who were just getting to see the world of art at the time, and left influences in their un-established style and personalities. Through imitation and interpretation, they paid tribute to the master with their own works.
The selection of Wyeth’s works demonstrate his different approaches and style of different creative periods, and it is the hope that this exhibition will not only be a memorable visual experience but also initiate a retrospection of the original passions in Chinese art scene.
Li Xian Ting, academic consultant, said: “When Andrew Wyeth’s work first caught the eyes of artists of this generation, we were mainly under the influence of Socialist Realism from the 40s and Peredvizhniki art, in which the relation between the narrative and ideology featured heavily. Historically, young Chinese artists’ classical training was all figurative and representational—implying that each piece of work was supposed to tell a story with a specific subject. At the time, the only way to rebel against Social Realism was to embrace Modernism, entailing a complete abandon of representation. This would have implied, at the same time, renouncing years of artistic skills, starting from zero to reincarnate a new self under the banners of Cubism and Abstract Expressionism. And just as artists found themselves at this impasse, Wyeth’s works appeared. They were melancholic, poetic, but at the same time they developed on the skills and possibilities of representation. This deeply moved the burgeoning Chinese artists and inspired many to ask themselves the question – “Is it possible for us to hold on to the artistic training we grow up with, and still create something new that is different from Modernist art?” And obviously, Wyeth provided them with such a possibility.”
Steven P. Murphy, CEO of Christie’s, said, “We are honored to support this exhibition of Andrew Wyeth’s works in China – a country and a people with a most profound cultural heritage and appreciation for great artworks. Christie’s has always prioritized cultural stewardship and we hope to continue this great heritage with the exhibit of Wyeth in China. We are indebted to all of our partners, in particular Li Xian Ting, for making this exhibition a meaningful retrospective of the highest academic caliber.”
Warren Adelson, Adelson Galleries, said: “We are all thrilled to be involved with Andrew Wyeth's first exhibition in China. Andy had said for years that he would love to exhibit his art in this country, and we all feel he is smiling at the prospect of showing these important works in Beijing.”
The exhibit will showcase Andrew Wyeth’s works representing various periods, subject matter and medium. Highlighting the exhibit will be the premiere of the unpublished and previously unknown work, “The Lovers,” which is loaned directly from the studio of Andrew Wyeth. A drybrush and watercolor on paper, the subject of painting is on Wyeth’s muse Helga Testorf, who is portrayed in nude seated on stool, looking away from the viewer, as the afternoon sun streams in from the adjacent doorway.
Another highlight is Wyeth’s “Ericksons,” a majestic portrait of George Erickson, one of Wyeth’s favorite subjects, at his home in rural Maine. Executed in 1973, the large and rare tempera is imbued with a haunting, plaintive silence that pervades Wyeth’s greatest works, along with his characteristic simplicity and contemplative beauty. Like many of his most celebrated compositions, the picture captures rural American life. “Ericksons” also achieved a world auction record for the artist at Christie’s in May 2007, and is on loan from a private collector.
The exhibit will include the monumental portrait and compelling landscape, “Faraway,” which features the artist’s son, Jamie Wyeth, as a young boy wearing a beaver skin hat. “Faraway” is one of Wyeth’s first dry-brush paintings. It was begun as a watercolor, with dry-brush technique for the fur cap.
About YUAN Space
In old Chinese, YUAN means the start of everything. Established in the spring of 2012, the art space was named YUAN because we want to embrace art with the passion of newborn babies, and face visitors with the sincerity of beginners.
YUAN Space is a non-profit organization dedicated to art promotion. We endeavor to present top-notch exhibitions to the public, and to make it possible that gallery-goers in China have access to rarely seen masterpieces. We will also hold related activities and public lectures to show a piece’s significance in the history of art.
We believe that an ideal art space plays the part of a sanctuary for the human spirit. Visitors may come whenever they want and spend some time with art in serenity. Their stay here will help them to get away from confusion and anxiety, and recharge themselves with hope. For all these reasons, YUAN Space finds its location in the city center area Beijing, enjoying the peace of suburbs while keep away with the hustle and bustle of a metropolis.
The 1000-square-metre space is split into two exhibition halls. Every indoor detail is designed to maximize the experience of observing art in person. In addition, the space is open to the public only by appointment in order to achieve the best touring experience.
Christie’s, the world's leading art business, had global auction and private sales in 2011 that totaled £3.6 billion/$5.7 billion. Christie’s is a name and place that speaks of extraordinary art, unparalleled service and expertise, as well as international glamour. Founded in 1766 by James Christie, Christie's has since conducted the greatest and most celebrated auctions through the centuries providing a popular showcase for the unique and the beautiful. Christie’s offers over 450 auctions annually in over 80 categories, including all areas of fine and decorative arts, jewellery, photographs, collectibles, wine, and more. Prices range from $200 to over $100 million. Christie's also has a long and successful history conducting private sales for its clients in all categories, with emphasis on Post-War and Contemporary, Impressionist and Modern, Asian Art, Old Masters and Jewellery. Private sales totaled £502 million / $808.6m in 2011, an increase of 44% on the previous year.
Christie’s has a global presence with 53 offices in 32 countries and 10 salerooms around the world including in London, New York, Paris, Geneva, Milan, Amsterdam, Dubai, Zürich, and Hong Kong. More recently, Christie’s has led the market with expanded initiatives in growth markets such as Russia, China, India and the United Arab Emirates, with successful sales and exhibitions in Beijing, Mumbai and Dubai.
With a presence in Hong Kong for 25 years, 16 years in Beijing, and 43 years in Japan, the company has a strong tradition of promoting Asian works of art and other international categories across the region. In 2011, Asian Art became the firm’s second largest collecting category by sales, with £552.9 million / $890.1 million in global sales.
About Adelson Galleries
For over 40 years, Adelson Galleries has handled some of the finest American paintings to come to market, placing works in major private collections as well as leading public institutions. Distinguished for his expertise in the fields of American Impressionism, Realism and Modernism, the gallery was founded in 1965 by Warren Adelson. Warren has been dealing with the Wyeth family since 1974.