July 16–December 28, 2014
Lois and Michael Torf Gallery
The first comprehensive retrospective of artist Jamie Wyeth (born 1946) will examine his imaginative approach to realism over the course of six decades, from his earliest childhood drawings through various recurring themes inspired by the people, places and objects that populate his world. A member of a family of artists—including his grandfather, Newell Convers “N.C.” Wyeth (1882–1945); his father, Andrew Wyeth (1917–2009); and his aunt, Carolyn Wyeth (1909–1994)—Jamie Wyeth has followed a unique path, training with his aunt Carolyn after leaving school at age 11, studying anatomy in a New York City morgue and working in Andy Warhol’s New York studio, The Factory. Jamie Wyeth will include approximately 100 paintings, works on paper, illustrations and assemblages created by the artist, many in a range of “combined mediums,” his preferred term for the distinctive technique he brings to his compositions. The exhibition will feature Wyeth’s portraits of subjects such as his wife, Phyllis Wyeth; John F. Kennedy (commissioned by family members after his death); Rudolph Nureyev; and Andy Warhol; which will be shown alongside a selection of preparatory drawings and studies that offer a window into the artist’s immersive approach to portraiture. The exhibition will also feature landscapes of the worlds he inhabits in the Brandywine River Valley (between Pennsylvania and Delaware) and the Midcoast of Maine—especially the islands of Tenants Harbor and Monhegan—still lifes of pumpkins (a fascination from his youth) and the many animals and birds that are part of his family and surroundings. Organized by the MFA and accompanied by an extensively illustrated catalogue, the exhibition will travel to three additional venues. Jamie Wyeth is sponsored by Bank of America. Additional support provided by Mr. & Mrs. Jeffrey E. Marshall, and the Shelly and Michael Kassen Fund.
Jamie Wyeth is organized into several themes that offer a sense of his trajectory as an artist—themes he has returned to over the course of his career and recent work:
- The exhibition will introduce Wyeth by situating him within his family context. Works will include his childhood drawings and earliest portraits, which were created in his father’s and grandfather’s studio, where he initially worked under the tutelage of his aunt Carolyn.
- Wyeth’s formative years during the 1960s and 1970s produced paintings such as his Portrait of John F. Kennedy (1963), a series of watercolors and paintings inspired by his participation in NASA’s “Eyewitness to Space” program and courtroom drawings rendered during the Watergate Hearings in 1974.
- Working in New York City beginning in 1965, Wyeth embarked upon the portrait of Lincoln Kirstein (1965). He also exchanged portraits with Andy Warhol at his famous Factory in 1976, and spent 18 months portraying the great ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev in 1977.
- In the Brandywine River Valley, Wyeth painted the barns, buildings and landscapes surrounding his childhood home in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania and later on the Wyeths’ farm in Wilmington, Delaware. The exhibition features early landscapes produced when the artist was 13 years old, a series of paintings depicting his wife—who suffered an automobile accident at the age of 21 that left her unable to walk without crutches—actively engaged in driving carriages, along with portraits of local birds, farm animals and the artist’s beloved family pets.
- In his paintings of Maine (primarily Southern Island and Monhegan Island), Wyeth evokes a sense of the sublime found in the terrifying rawness of nature, which appears in the series of The Seven Deadly Sins (2005) and Inferno, Monhegan (2006)—a work that will be accompanied in the exhibition by the short documentary film of the artist creating the composition.
- Wyeth’s most recent work includes paintings such as Berg (2012), which was based on his experience of being thrown out of a launch headlong into the frigid waters of Tenants Harbor, as well as a series of three paintings depicting a recurring dream of his artistic mentors—Winslow Homer, Andy Warhol, N.C. Wyeth and Andrew Wyeth—posed on the dramatic cliffs of the Monhegan Headlands, looking out at the sea.
- Other recent work included in the exhibition are two mixed media tableaux vivant, The Factory Dining Room and La Côte Basque (2013), both recalling Wyeth’s earlier experiences in New York City. Never shown before, these two painted and sculpted compositions, rendered at one-sixth to one-foot scale, connect Wyeth’s vision to a long tradition of surrealist and realist assemblage and introduce yet another dimension of the imaginative worlds that inspire his work.
The accompanying exhibition catalogue, produced by MFA Publications, examines Wyeth’s work within a wide range of realist traditions––including those of his contemporaries and past American masters––giving particular attention to the multifaceted nature of the creative process over the course of the artist’s career.
Exhibition Travel Schedule
The exhibition will include four venues: MFA, Boston (July 16–December 28, 2014); Brandywine River Museum (January 16–April 5, 2015); San Antonio Museum of Art (April 26–July 5, 2015); and Crystal Bridges Museum of Art (July 23–October 4, 2015).
The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), is recognized for the quality and scope of its encyclopedic collection, which includes an estimated 450,000 objects. The Museum’s collection is made up of: Art of the Americas; Art of Europe; Contemporary Art; Art of Asia, Oceania, and Africa; Art of the Ancient World; Prints, Drawings, and Photographs; Textile and Fashion Arts; and Musical Instruments. Open seven days a week, the MFA’s hours are Saturday through Tuesday, 10 a.m. – 4:45 p.m.; and Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 9:45 p.m. Admission (which includes one repeat visit within 10 days) is $25 for adults and $23 for seniors and students age 18 and older, and includes entry to all galleries and special exhibitions. Admission is free for University Members and youths age 17 and younger on weekdays after 3 p.m., weekends, and Boston Public Schools holidays; otherwise $10. Wednesday nights after 4 p.m. admission is by voluntary contribution (suggested donation $25). MFA Members are always admitted for free. The MFA’s multi-media guide is available at ticket desks and the Sharf Visitor Center for $5, members; $6, non-members; and $4, youths. The Museum is closed on New Year’s Day, Patriots’ Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. For more information, visit or call 617.267.9300. The MFA is located on the Avenue of the Arts at 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115.