JAMIE WYETH (b. 1946)
JAMIE WYETH (b. 1946)
JAMIE WYETH (b. 1946)
1 More
JAMIE WYETH (b. 1946)
4 More
Property from a Prominent Private Collection
JAMIE WYETH (b. 1946)

The Warning

JAMIE WYETH (b. 1946)
The Warning
mixed media on paper
34 x 48 in. (86.4 x 121.9 cm.)
Painted in 2007.
The artist.
Adelson Galleries, New York.
Private collection, New England, acquired from the above, 2008.
Bonhams, New York, 28 November 2012, lot 71, sold by the above.
Babcock Galleries, New York, acquired from the above.
Acquired by the present owner from the above, 2012.
New York, Adelson Galleries, Seven Deadly Sins & Recent Works by Jamie Wyeth, March 14-April 18, 2008, pp. 32-33, illustrated.
Further details
This work is included in the database of the artist's work being compiled by the Wyeth Center at the William A. Farnsworth Museum, Rockland, Maine.

Brought to you by

Tylee Abbott
Tylee Abbott Vice President, Head of American Art

Lot Essay

Finding inspiration in familiar landscapes and subjects that surround his everyday life, Jamie Wyeth's best works, such as The Warning, elevate the seemingly mundane to a highly regarded subject. Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and coastal Maine were home to generations of Wyeths, and a vast assortment of animals from these locations have proven central to Wyeth's work, including pigs, ravens, cows, sheep and dogs. The Warning is a striking example focusing on the seagulls often seen off the coast of Maine—captured from an unusual and provocative perspective.

Wyeth himself once noted, “I spend as much time with an animal or an object as I do with a person when I'm doing their portrait.” (Jamie Wyeth: Islands, exhibition catalogue, Rockland, Maine, 1993, p. 16) In the present work, this intense attention to his subject is emphasized by the positioning of the primary bird in larger-than-life scale at the front of the picture plane, confronting the viewer head-on. Dominating the whole field of vision, the gull exudes a palpable personality, and perhaps even an aggression, which cannot help but evoke an emotional response from the viewer. The Warning was executed while Wyeth was assembling a series on the seven deadly sins—where gulls perform each of the forbidden acts—perhaps explaining the dramatic or even sinister presence of the subject.

As epitomized by The Warning, Christopher Crosman writes, "While these paintings of birds and animals are remarkably accurate, there is something well beyond rational, scientific observation—the primal gestures, the unsettling eyes, perhaps, stirring in the viewer archetypal memories anterior to culture...Wyeth paints as if he were observing from the bird's unique perspective and identity, a feat that would surely please his grandfather." (Wondrous Strange: The Wyeth Tradition, exhibition catalogue, Boston, Massachusetts, 1998, p. 129)

While Jamie Wyeth's technique is distinct from his father, twentieth-century realist Andrew Wyeth, and from his grandfather, the illustrator N.C. Wyeth, their influence is undeniable. The striking palette and narrative quality of Jamie's work recalls N.C.’s dynamic narratives, while the haunting realism echoes Andrew’s work. As seen in the tumultuous seascape setting of The Warning, Jamie adds to these qualities an energy expressed through thick, textural impasto, as well as a swirling sense of movement—antithetical to the characteristic stillness of his father’s work.

Jamie Wyeth once explained, “The terrible danger with realism is simply painting to make things look real. That's not what painting is about...My passion is to go as deep within the visual structure of an object or person as one possibly can. It just so happens in the final work I don't abstract it.” (as quoted in Jamie Wyeth: Islands, p. 5) While following in his family’s footsteps, as exemplified by The Warning, Jamie Wyeth has defined a visual language of his own that makes him one of the most recognized and engaging contemporary artists working in the realist tradition.

More from Modern American Art

View All
View All