Wyeth to fill space left by the Cones Art: Recent works by "America's Painter" offer freshness and some pleasant surprises for those familiar with his works.

August 06, 1996|By Holly Selby | Holly Selby,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore Museum of Art announced yesterday that an exhibition of artworks by Andrew Wyeth will take the place of the renowned Cone Collection when it goes on tour in Japan this fall.

"Andrew Wyeth: America's Painter," an exhibition organized by the Greenville (S.C.) County Museum of Art to coincide with the Olympic Games, will be at the BMA from Sept. 25 through Feb. 16, 1997.

The last day for Baltimore museum-goers to see the Cone Collection before it leaves for Japan is Sept. 8.

At 79, Wyeth continues to paint in Chadds Ford, Pa., and Cushing, Maine, and is among the most admired contemporary realist painters. The BMA's last Andrew Wyeth exhibition was shown in 1966.

The upcoming exhibit emphasizes the artist's recent work: Nearly half of the 50 objects were completed between 1990 and 1994. However, there will also be works from classic Wyeth series, including those of the Olson and Kuerner families and model Helga Testorf, whom he painted during the 1970s.

The show is perhaps uncharacteristic in its emphasis on Wyeth's recent work, says Martha R. Severens, curator at the Greenville County Museum of Art. "They are very fresh works that haven't been seen much by the public and there are some very surprising images."

The artist used an array of media, including watercolor, tempera, drybrush and pencil. Though many of Wyeth's large-scale watercolors are included, two tempera paintings, "The Reefer" (1977) and "Break-up" (1994), are among the most intriguing artworks in the display. All the works but one (which is from the artist's own collection) are on loan to the Greenville museum by a private collector who wishes to remain anonymous.

"It is exciting for us to have this exhibit because it provides a wonderful opportunity to take a close look at the artist and what his work was about," says Jay Fisher, the BMA's curator of prints, drawings and photographs.

With an artist of Wyeth's renown, "the great danger is that people have seen so much of his work that they stop really looking," he says.

Pay close attention, and "the mystery of them catches you in surprising way."

The show, initially designed exclusively for the Greenville museum, was conceived when that museum's staff began looking for a way to capitalize on Olympic crowds that would be visiting the area.

In South Carolina, the show has met with extraordinary success -- sometimes increasing by tenfold the museum's typical daily attendance of 100, Severens says. One reason may be the artist's broad appeal.

"Wyeth is a lot more complicated than most people think," Severens says. "Revelations still occur to me, but his art also works on a very immediate level for the uninitiated, and that's wonderful."

Pub Date: 8/06/96

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