Wyeth

Bio

James Browning Wyeth (born July 6, 1946) is a contemporary American realist painter. He was born in Chadds Ford Township, Pennsylvania, son of Andrew Wyeth and grandson of N.C. Wyeth. He is artistic heir to the Brandywine School Tradition, painters who worked in the rural Brandywine River area of Delaware and Pennsylvania, portraying its people, animals, and landscape.

ames “Jamie” Wyeth was the second child of Andrew and Betsy Wyeth, born three years after brother Nicholas (an art dealer later). He was raised on his parents' farm “The Mill” in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, in much the same way as his father had been brought up, and with much the same influences. He demonstrated the same remarkable skill in drawing as his father had done at comparable ages. He attended public school for six years and afterwards was privately tutored by his family, concentrating on art.

n New York during the 1970s, Wyeth painted Rudolf Nureyev, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and President-elect Jimmy Carter. Apart from visits to New York, his primary subjects in the 1970s and 1980s were the people, animals, and landscapes of his Pennsylvania home and of Monhegan island in Maine, where he bought the Lobster Cove property of Rockwell Kent, famed illustrator of his grandfather’s generation.

During this period, he painted some of his most famous animal portraits, Angus (1974), Islander (1975), and 10W30 (1981). His self-portrait Pumpkinhead—Self-Portrait (1972), depicting a figure in black standing in a field with a pumpkin over his head, is as self-effacing as his father’s self-portrait Trodden Weed, (1951) showing only Andrew’s legs from the knees down. In 2002, Wyeth followed up with another humorous self-portrait Pumpkinhead Visits the Lighthouse.

Wyeth was invited to the Soviet Union in the summer of 1975 to tour the country’s art museums, and he took the opportunity to meet with dissident artists. In March 1987, Wyeth traveled to Leningrad to attend the opening of An American Vision: Three Generations of Wyeth Art, a major exhibition of 117 works whose rural subjects proved very popular with the Russian people.

In 1984 he painted "Night Vision" to commemorate the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. This piece depicts a soldier of the Vietnam era as though seen through a Starlight scope or similar night vision device. It was later reproduced as a signed limited edition and sold to benefit the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial colloquially known as "The Wall."

In the last two decades, Jamie Wyeth has been presented at over two dozen exhibitions throughout the United States and abroad. He moved to Southern Island at the mouth of Tenants Harbor in the early 1990s to secure more privacy and lives there in a lighthouse.

Much of his output since then comes from that locale. Wyeth’s fascination with island life is revealed in its more disturbing form in If Once You Have Slept on an Island (1996) which depicts a young woman sitting on a tousled bed who appears sad and exhausted from wild dreams. The title was derived from a poem by Rachel Field with the opening lines: "If once you have slept on an island, You'll never be quite the same."

Other noteworthy commissions in addition to his portrait of JFK have been the design of a 1971 eight-cent Christmas stamp, the official White House Christmas cards for 1981 and 1984, and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver portrait for use on the 1995 Special Olympics World Summer Games Commemorative coin. He also lent his support to lighthouse preservation efforts in Maine in 1995 with his exhibition, "Island Light".

Wyeth has illustrated two children's books, The Stray (1979), written by his mother Betsy James Wyeth, and Cabbages and Kings (1997), written by Elizabeth Seabrook.

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