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    Sale 2058

    Important American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture

    4 December 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 120

    Andrew Wyeth (b. 1917)

    Cider Barrel

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    Andrew Wyeth (b. 1917)
    Cider Barrel
    signed 'Andrew Wyeth' (lower right)
    watercolor and pencil on paper
    22 x 29 in. (55.9 x 73.7 cm.)
    Executed in 1969.


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    Cider Barrel is part of an important body of work depicting the Kuerner farm in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. "Some of my earliest watercolors were done there," Wyeth comments. "When I was about ten years old, I had an urge to paint it, curiously enough; it never became a conscious effort or something about which I said to myself, 'I must continue this work.' I've gone on for years and not painted there. Then, all of a sudden, I'll have a strong compulsion to go back." He continues, "I didn't go to that farm because it was in any way bucolic. Actually I'm not terribly interested in farming. The abstract, almost military quality of that farm originally appealed to me and still does...To see the hills capped with snow in the wintertime or to look at the tawniness of the fields in the fall all made me want to paint it. But here again, I backed into it. I didn't think it was a picturesque place. It just excited me, purely abstractly and purely emotionally." (as quoted in Two Worlds of Andrew Wyeth: Kuerners and Olsons, exhibition catalogue, New York, 1976, p. 40)

    Wyeth is a constant observer, often working in series inspired by subjects familiar to him. He builds upon them in sketches which he swiftly and deftly creates in quick passages of light that fall on a landscape or a passing glimpse from one of his sitters. As a result, his finished compositions often result in a marvelous dichotomy of abstraction grounded in precisely rendered realism of the places and people of Pennsylvania and Maine. The balance of darker tonalities in the middle ground of the composition with the lighter expanse in the foreground and sky in Cider Barrel, creates an overall abstraction of light and dark. Wyeth is constantly intrigued by these effects of bands of light and exploits the subtle variations of the drybrush and watercolor medium to explore the abstract shapes naturally found in his surrounding landscape. He makes a point of saying, "Why not have the abstraction and real, too? Combine the two, bring in the new with the traditional and you can't beat it. I believe, however, that I don't want to let the one take over the other. I try for an equal balance...I want the object to be there in my paintings, perhaps in all of its smallest detail, not as a tour de force, but naturally, in such a a way that I have backed into it." (as quoted in Two Worlds of Andrew Wyeth: Kuerners and Olsons, p. 18)

    A quiet and haunting drama pervades the scene in Cider Barrel, rendered in the deep shadows of the buildings in the background and the starkness of light which is cast over the foreground. The combination of light and color in Cider Barrel immediately communicates the smell, texture and overall feel of the end of a late winter's day and the emotions associated with rural life that seems especially embedded in tradition and the people and way of life the artist holds in such high regard.

    "From the start of his career, Andrew Wyeth has been very much aware of those things that endure and those that pass away. His is an art which does not dwell upon itself or upon topical issues of the day, but one that ponders elemental, timeless moments of wonder in the presence of nature. Wyeth's regard for nature includes human beings, their actions, qualities of mind, and outward appearance." (Wondrous Strange, p. 18) Wyeth always remains loyal to the people in his immediate surroundings, rarely ever traveling beyond the environs of mid-coast Maine and Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. This devotion to location and subject allows Wyeth to completely immerse himself in his art, lending sincerity to his painting style without being sentimental. Yet even with this investment, Wyeth remains the impartial spectator to create narratives that are deeply charged with his own emotion yet maintain an ability to allow for the viewer's own interpretation.

    Cider Barrel bears witness to the passage of time as an eerily haunting portrait and tribute to one of the artist's favorite early subjects, Karl Kuerner. Each broad wash of pigment and purposeful detailed stroke of drybrush builds a complex scene that reveals Wyeth's reverence for the past and the present as expressed in the vernacular architecture and domestic implements of rural Pennsylvania. "Art, to me, is seeing. I think you have got to use your eyes as well as your emotion, and one without the other just doesn't work. That's my art." (Two Worlds of Andrew Wyeth: Kuerners and Olsons, p. 185)

    This watercolor will be included in Betsy James Wyeth's forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist's work.

    Provenance

    Joseph E. Levine Collection, Greenwich, Connecticut.
    Holly and Arthur Magill Collection, Greenville, South Carolina.
    Private collection, Japan.
    Christie's, New York, 25 May 2000, lot 136.
    Acquired by the present owner from the above.


    Pre-Lot Text

    Property of a Private Southern Collection


    Literature

    F.A. Sweet, Andrew Wyeth, exhibition catalogue, Boston, Massachusetts, 1970, p. 130, no. 89, illustrated.
    Andrew Crispo Gallery, Ten Americans--Masters of Watercolor, exhibition catalogue, New York, 1974, n.p., illustrated.
    T. Hoving, Two Worlds of Andrew Wyeth: Kuerners and Olsons, The Metropolitam Museum of Art Members Art Bulletin, New York, autumn 1976, n.p., no. 112, illustrated.
    J. Canaday, "Andrew Wyeth: Rising Above the Scorn," The Art Gallery, May 1979, pp. 102-15, 126, illustrated.
    The Greenville County Museum of Art, Works by Andrew Wyeth from the Holly and Arthur Magill Collection, exhibition catalogue, Greenville, South Carolina, 1979, pp. 18-19, no.1.
    W. Schemmel, "Wyeths of Greenville," Pace, July 1980, pp. 44-46, illustrated.
    A. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth: Autobiography, New York, 1995, p. 76, illustrated.
    Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, Andrew Wyeth Retrospective, exhibition catalogue, Nagoya, Japan, 1995, p.102, no. 66, illustrated.


    Exhibited

    Boston, Massachusetts, Museum of Fine Arts, Andrew Wyeth, July 17-September 6, 1970, no. 89.
    New York, Andrew Crispo Gallery, Ten Americans--Masters of Watercolor, May 16-June 30, 1974.
    New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Two Worlds of Andrew Wyeth: Kuerners and Olsons, October 16, 1976-February 6, 1977, no. 112.
    Denver, Colorado, United Bank of Denver, Andrew Wyeth in Facsimile, September 16-October 14, 1977.
    Greenville, South Carolina, The Greenville County Museum of Art, Works by Andrew Wyeth from the Holly and Arthur Magill Collection, September 1979-January 1989, on loan.
    Nagoya, Japan, Aichi Prefectural Museum, and elsewhere, Andrew Wyeth Retrospective, February 3-April 2, 1995, no. 66.