An important retrospective for 20th-century American painter Andrew Wyeth explores the artist’s fascination with windows, portals, and perception.
Andrew Wyeth’s use of the window as a theme for his art forms the basis for a new exhibition at Washington’s National Gallery of Art. Wyeth depicted windows in some 300 works, and “Andrew Wyeth: Looking Out, Looking In” displays a selection of around 60 of them, including tempera paintings, watercolors, and drawings.

Andrew Wyeth, “Off at Sea,” 1972, tempera on panel. Private collection. © Andrew Wyeth

Andrew Wyeth, “Evening at Kuerners,” 1970, drybrush on paper. The Andrew and Betsy Wyeth Collection. © Andrew Wyeth

Over the course of his career, Wyeth repeatedly returned to the theme of the window. With its simultaneous geometric character and symbolic significance, the window served as a fitting expression for Wyeth’s art — a confluence of realist technique and abstract vision.

Andrew Wyeth, “Rod and Reel,” 1975, watercolor on paper. Dr. and Mrs. James David Brodell. © Andrew Wyeth
The touchstone for the exhibition, and part of the reason for its organization, is “Wind From the Sea” (1947), an exemplary work that was given to the National Gallery in 2009. The artist’s first fully developed iteration of the window theme features soft lighting, a barren landscape, and wind-blown, gossamer curtains that all contribute to the latent emotion for which Wyeth is known and celebrated. From this early work, the exhibition progresses to examine Wyeth’s studies of windows at a few important sites, including the Kuerner farm in Pennsylvania and the artist’s own Brandywine studio.

Andrew Wyeth, “Room in the Mirror, Study,” 1948 watercolor on paper. The Andrew and Betsy Wyeth Collection. © Andrew Wyeth
Throughout, the exhibition aims to unearth the paradoxical nature of Wyeth’s window paintings. Meticulous and structural in composition, they also carry an identifiable nostalgic and personal tone.

Andrew Wyeth, “Wind from the Sea,” 1947, tempera on hardboard. National Gallery of Art; Gift of Charles H. Morgan, 2009. © Andrew Wyeth
“Andrew Wyeth: Looking Out, Looking In” will only be seen in Washington. The exhibition opened May 4 and continues through November 30. To learn more, visit the National Gallery of Art website.


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