In 1987 there was a traveling exhibition, AN AMERICAN VISION: THREE GENERATIONS OF WYETH ART, that was accompanied by a beautiful hardcover book by the same name. Fortunate for art lovers that catalog, having passed through a paperback phase, is once again appearing on the shelves of book stores and museums. It is a treasure worth seeking. Presented with a fine overview by James H. Duff the book follows the lives and influences and works by the three Wyeths: N.C. Wyeth, 1882 - 1945, is introduced by his son Andrew; Andrew Wyeth (born 1917) is introduced by Thomas Hoving; James Wyeth (born 1946) is introduced by Lincoln Kirsten who not only brings the reader up to date with Wyeth the Younger, but also provides insights to the durability of the Wyeth tradition and influence on American art.
Some may have once dismissed the three Wyeths as minor artists and major illustrators, but today's critics share a growing appreciation for their output, both individually and as a family of unique thought. NC Wyeth's works were more devoted to historic adventure paintings and his works were often used in books as illustrations for tales of adventure. Andrew Wyeth captured the mood of an America losing contact with the simplicity of her roots and his simple, unfettered landscapes and portraits continue to be hallmarks of a simpler time, a period when the poetry of Robert Frost and William Carlos Williams and the music of Aaron Copeland defined the quiet frontier vision too often forgotten in the smoke of industry and the clangor of technology. James (or Jamie) Wyeth's approach to nature and her animals and to the rugged individualism of the people who populate New England continue to celebrate the customs and concepts of a neglected America continue to grow: many feel his current work is his strongest.
The book is filled with full color plates of the paintings and drawings of all three of the Wyeth clan and moving through the pages is not unlike strolling the museums where this exhibition traveled throughout the USA and in Russia, England and Japan. It is a book of revelations about the three artists and an homage to a family talent that persists. Very highly recommended: look for it now! Grady Harp, December 07