Thursday, 10 February 2011

Bite 57: Andrew Wyeth - Christina's World, 1948

Christina's World, 1948, tempura on gessoed panel, 82 x 121 cm
One of the most popular works in the permanent MoMA collection (although not necessarily so highly-acclaimed among academics), Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth can be seen as somewhat against the grain of the Modernism of the period. 

Considered an example of 'Magic Realism', each hair and blade of grass is minutely defined and the entire scene is imbued with a dense ambiguous quality, a sense of impending events. A portrait of the artist's neighbour who was crippled by polio, she "was limited physically but by no means spiritually." As Wyeth explained, "The challenge to me was to do justice to her extraordinary conquest of a life which most people would consider hopeless." 

This rather melancholic work none-the-less speaks of a kind of hopelessness. The girl, face turned from the viewer, gazes toward a house in the distance, dark clouds hovering above. The overall impression is that she will never make it back there, her paralyzed legs and downtrodden spirit withholding her from anything she may have once dreamed of becoming.

In the collection at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York